The Solar Impulse 2 has flown over New York as it nears the end of the US part of its globe-circling bid. The goal is to be the first plane to circumnavigate the Earth with the sun as the only source of power.
"It's absolutely incredible," Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg said over a live video feed as the iconic statue lit up the night below him. "It's a dream here." The plane traveled across the Manhattan skyline before landing at New York's Kennedy Airport at about 4:00 am (0800 GMT) on Saturday.
Ending the US crossing at the Statue of Liberty "is a very strong moment for me," said Borschberg as he approached New York, calling it a "symbol of the freedom of enterprise, the freedom to innovate."
The light, slow-moving aircraft took three hours to reach New York's harbor, after taking off from Lehigh Valley Airport in Pennsylvania shortly before midnight Friday.
This was the 14th leg of an east-west journey that began on March 9, 2015, in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, with stops made in Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan.
The single-seat aircraft has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and is clad in 17,000 solar cells. During night flights it runs on battery-stored power, traveling 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour, although its flight speed can double when exposed to full sunlight.
The plane will aim for Paris, to repeat the historic first Atlantic plane crossing made by Charles Lindbergh in 1927. If weather does not permit this, the Solar Impulse may head further south, perhaps to Toulouse, or to Seville in Spain.
jbh/bk (AFP, AP)