Solar Impulse pilots talk about epic journey
The two Swiss pilots taking turns to fly a solarpowered airplane around the world said the endeavour is not only a demonstration of the importance of renewable energy but also of the many challenges the human body can endure.
Pilot Bertrand Piccard completed a risky, three-day flight across a great expanse of the Pacific Ocean while sleeping only 20 minutes at a time inside the plane’s tiny cockpit with no heat or air conditioning and while having to keep constant contact with the Europe-based control centre.
“You have interviews, navigation control, communications with the control centre in Monaco. You have health checks, a lot of health checks,” Piccard said. “It’s very active, there are a lot of things to do, but you can nevertheless enjoy it.”
Piccard said he uses self-hypnosis to keep his energy up and puts heating pads inside his shoes and gloves for warmth. He said he has no complaints about the ready-made meals he can warm up with a special heat packet and that can include risotto, chicken curry and potatoes.
Piccard landed the Solar Impulse 2 in Mountain View, in the Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, on Saturday night following a 62-hour, nonstop solo flight from Hawaii without fuel. The landing came hours after Piccard made a fly-by over the Golden Gate Bridge as spectators below watched the narrow aircraft with extra wide wings.
Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been taking turns flying the plane on an around-theworld trip since taking off from Abu Dhabi in March 2015.
It made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China, Japan and Hawaii.
The trans-Pacific legs were the riskiest part of the plane’s travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites.
“We have demonstrated it is feasible to fly many days, many nights, that the technology works,” said co-pilot Andre Borschberg, 63, who piloted the plane on a five-day trip from Japan to Hawaii and, keeping himself alert with yoga and meditation.
The project has helped to show that “as a human being you can be sufficiently sustainable to be able to fly at least five days in such a plane”.
ARRIVALS: Bertrand Piccard (right) and Andre Borschberg are welcomed in Silicon Valley