Weather delays third leg for Solar Impulse

Unfavourable weather conditions will keep Solar Impulse 2 grounded at Ahmedabad, India, until Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.

Visitors photograph Solar Impulse 2 at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad on Friday. Sam Panthaky / AFP
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ABU DHABI // Unfavourable weather conditions will keep Solar Impulse 2 grounded at Ahmedabad, India, until Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.

The solar-powered aircraft was due to depart for the third leg of its five-month journey around the world on Saturday, but strong winds and a chance of rain delayed the departure to Varanasi, India.

“It’s too windy. There has been a lot of wind these last few days. Also, when we leave from one area, we have to make sure that the weather on the other end is good too,” said the spokeswoman.

The Solar Impulse 2 arrived in Ahmedabad on March 10, after travelling more than 1,400 kilometres from Muscat.

Its inaugural flight on its 12-stop journey began in Abu Dhabi on March 9. After making two stops in India, Solar Impulse 2 is scheduled to land in Myanmar, China, the United States and Europe, before returning to Abu Dhabi.

While in Ahmedabad, the plane’s two Swiss pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, have been hosting community events to promote their Future is Clean campaign.

The Masdar Abu Dhabi-backed campaign asks the public to support clean technology and calls on global leaders to take “concrete actions for a clean future”.

"By casting your vote on http://futureisclean.org, you will help our solar airplane make a real difference," Dr Piccard tweeted on Saturday.

The longer layover has offered the pilots more time to relax. With a photo of himself lying down, with water flowing over his forehead, Dr Piccard tweeted: “Deep relaxation with portable Shirodhara prepares the mind for alertness and concentration #RTW.”

rpennington@thenational.ae