On March 9 of this year a great adventure started: The first solar-powered flight around the world.
With 12 planned stopovers the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft attempts to complete the 35 000km journey around the world within five months. With over 17 000 solar cells spread out on its 72 meter wide wings the Solar Impulse 2 flies without a single drop of fuel. A plane powered by the sun.
A mission initiated by modern day adventurer Bertrand Piccard and former fighter pilot André Boschberg. Coming from a family of explorers Piccard got the idea for flying without fuel while completing the first circumnavigation of the world in a hot air balloon in 1999. (In case you got curious about his philosophy, balloon adventure, his family of explorers and how this mission started you’re in luck: he did a ted talk about this.)
By embarking on a seemingly impossible adventure around the world, their ambition is nothing less than changing the world with their trip. Or at least challenge current beliefs and conventions. A strategy that comes down to believing in your dreams, aiming high and make it happen. The Solar Impulse team believes in the idea of clean air travel in the future and even if the odds are up against them and they’re giving this mission their all to create that much needed proof of concept. And alongside that building up a movement for their mission.
“Solar Impulse also wants to encourage and inspire each and every one of us to become pioneers and explorers in our own lives, and to invent a brighter future.”
At the moment the team is stuck in Nagoya, Japan waiting for the weather to clear up so they can continue on their journey. They did not succeed in their attempt to fly the 8 000km distance from China to Hawaii in one go, yet their journey remains an inspiring project for the future of aviation. In order to have the biggest possible impact and advertise for a clean future of air travel the Solar Impulse Team is making smart use of the internet. You can follow the complete story on their site, get the latest updates via app, support them by joining their #thefutureisclean movement or simply enjoy the next extreme selfie.
As they state on their site:
“Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg do not plan to revolutionize the aviation industry but instead to demonstrate that the actual alternative energy sources and new technologies can achieve what some consider impossible.”
Heavy commercial planes might never be able to fly entirely on the solar power collected in flight. Since the large wings required to accommodate enough solar panels would have to expand into a ridiculous and physically impossible size. But a mixture of ‘on plane’ solar panels and stored energy from ‘on ground’ solar panels might be a very possible solution. Big companies such as Boeing and Airbus have already started experimenting with electrical hybrid engines. And the adventure of the Solar impulse has the ability to motivate and push testing even further. Or as André Borschberg put it:
“It’s important to get out of our habits, out of our certitudes, out of our beliefs, (…). Life is more interesting when we try new things.”
We couldn’t agree more.