Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg have set out to achieve something that still seems impossible today. The first around the world solar flight powered only by the sun with no fuel or any other polluting emissions. This is very much in line with the famous Swiss Piccard family tradition of explorations and adventures to protect our planet.
During the last two weeks here in Philadelphia and at the Lehigh Valley Airport I witnessed the Solar Impulse and how clean technologies can achieve impossible goals with passion and endurance. Solar Impulse 2 landed in Pennsylvania having traveled two-thirds of the world fueled only by solar energy.
Bertrand Piccard piloted the single-seater for 17 hours from Dayton, Ohio, on the 13th leg of the endeavor launched in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Piccard’s fuel for the trip? “Passion,” he said during a news conference outside the temporary hangar erected at the airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, as a home for the aircraft. I had the chance to attend this once in a lifetime event with more than 4000 people — invitees, media and members of the plane’s 60-strong ground crew.
Piccard, smiling and as ever excited, said he was struck by the number of children brought out to glimpse the Solar Impulse 2’s bid at making history as the first solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the world. “When I see children here I hope they will remember that they have seen the first solar-powered airplane that can fly day and night,” Piccard said, turning to the children: “And when you will speak to your children, maybe you will tell them that there was a time that airplanes were burning fuel.” “Maybe when you will have children, all of the airplanes will be electric or solar. You have to dream. You have to believe that we can have a better world, that we can have new technologies protecting the environment. That’s the challenge of the 21st century.”
The two pioneers of this journey are Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse initiator, chairman and pilot, who had the vision to fly around the world without fuel, and Andre Borschberg, co-founder, CEO and also the pilot, who led the team in designing and constructing the solar airplane.
In March 2015, Solar Impulse began its solar journey from Abu Dhabi and has traveled to Oman, India, Myanmar, China and Japan, Hawaii and California. It is now mid-way across the United States, heading to New York to position for the crossing of the Atlantic and is due to arrive back in Abu Dhabi by late July. Check out the latest on Solar Impulse right here: http://www.solarimpulse.com/