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It was neither the longest stage, or most difficult, let alone the most spectacular. Yet it is this seventeenth and last flight that will remain in history, one that the world will remember. Tuesday, July 26, the solar airplane Solar Impulse 2 has completed the first round of the aerial world – nearly 40 000 kilometers – without any drop of fuel
Party in Cairo, Egypt Saturday, Bertrand driver. Piccard arrived at the Al-Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, around 4 am Tuesday after forty-eight hours of flight. It is this same tarmac as his partner, André Borschberg, had dashed at the first step, in March 2015.
While the organizers struggled to contain the horde of reporters and cameramen are dangerously close to the track, Solar Impulse 2 began its final approach for landing with the lightness of a feather, in a silence broken only a few seconds before the wheels touch the ground, by the squeals of its propellers.
“More than a feat in the history of aviation, c is a feat in the history of renewable energy, said Bertrand Piccard disembarking the aircraft. This is now your turn to go further! “
In the tradition of the great explorers
With 2694 kilometers, the final step is nevertheless pales before some 8 900 km swallowed by André Borschberg between Nagoya, Japan, and Hawaii in five days and five nights, setting the record for solo flight without refueling and nonstop. Or the 6300 km from the Atlantic crossing from New York to Seville, connected in three days … But the last short hop between Cairo and Abu Dhabi, was not a foregone conclusion, however. The weather conditions had led the team to postpone take-off, especially because of extreme temperatures approaching the tolerable limit for the device.
Lack of interest of sponsors distrust even vis-à-vis distrust project … the beginning of the adventure are part of the tradition of the great explorers. The idea of a solar airplane germ in 2003 in the spirit of Bertrand Piccard, psychiatrist and balloonist in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, and the first model is made a year later. But, faced with financing difficulties, it was not until 2009 that the first version of Solar Impulse is built. And a few more months to demonstrate that the aircraft can fly. Two years later, Solar Impulse through the Mediterranean; Bertrand Piccard is already thinking about an improved version able to tour the world with the sun to fuel alone. Solar Impulse 2 Starts early 2014 and made its first flight in June.
On March 9, 2015, he began his world tour with stopovers. The two Swiss pilots take turns in the tiny cockpit. Each step is a heavy physical and psychological ordeal: fragmented sleep, solitude, yoga practiced in the reduced space of the cockpit as the only way to keep the functional body …
Read also: “Solar Impulse” and its pilot flying the solo flight record
Performance pioneer extraordinary
and now? Beyond this pioneering performance and unusual, it is still early to outline the true legacy of Solar Impulse. But Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are convinced: this is only the beginning
They want proof the recent creation by them of the International Committee for the Clean Technology (ICCT).. The purpose of this organization is to bring maximum environmental organizations, companies and associations able to speak with one voice and have more weight and impact at the policy level. According to Bertrand Piccard, more than 400 structures have responded
Read also:. Solar Impulse, a model for innovation in business
But it is not everything. André Borschberg hopes to capitalize on the experience and expertise acquired by the team to embark on industrial projects. It involves the design of a new generation of solar stratospheric UAVs capable of doing the work space satellites, but at lower cost and with greater spatial and temporal resolution.
“One key the goal to fly a machine six months, quite high [20 km] to fly over the air, and as it can carry a pretty heavy load for the communication, for example, “ confided André Borschberg in January 2015. giants such as Airbus or, more unexpected, Facebook has just successfully tested its prototype solar drone, already in the slot.
and aviation in? While long-haul flights remain far barter kerosene to sunlight, Bertrand Piccard bet that in ten years we will have electric aircraft boarding fifty passengers for short haul flights and means, he writes on his blog
Read also:. “the aim of Solar Impulse is to advocate and develop the use of clean technologies”
the prediction can smile. But he was not even there only fifteen years old when prophesied to tour the world with an aircraft that existed as of his imagination? “There is only one way to fail is not to try” , says Bertrand Piccard.