Swiss pilot and founder Bertrand Piccard beams after coming in for a landing in Phoenix (Image: CNN)
Flying for several hours after sundown, a solar-powered airplane landed in Phoenix early Saturday morning on the first leg of a cross-country trip.
The Solar Impulse -- considered the world's most-advanced sun-powered plane -- set down about 12:30 a.m., local time, at Sky Harbor Airport, completing part of a journey that its pilot described as a "milestone'' in aviation history.
"It's a little bit like being in a dream,'' said one of the plane's founders and pilot, Bertrand Piccard as he stepped on the tarmac.
The plane left Moffett Field in Mountain View near San Francisco just after dawn on Friday.
From Phoenix, the aircraft will travel to Dallas-Fort Worth airport in Texas, Lambert-St. Louis airport, Dulles airport in the Washington area and New York's John F. Kennedy airport.
Each flight leg will take about 19 to 25 hours, with 10-day stops in each city.
"All the big pioneers of the 20th century have tried to fly coast to coast across America,'' Piccard said before the flight. "So now today we're trying to do this, but on solar power with no fuel with the first airplane that is able to fly day and night just on solar power.''
The Solar Impulse is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover massive wings and charge its batteries, while weighing as much as a car.
With files from The Associated Press