Solar Impulse 2 has almost completed its journey around the world, after successfully making it across the Atlantic from New York to Seville. It becomes the first solar-powered aeroplane to conquer the ocean, with pilot Bertrand Piccard describing the feat as ‘symbolic’.
The trip took four days, during which a solo Piccard could only take short naps in the unheated and unpressurised cabin, with the aircraft’s seat doubling up as a toilet. Were there at least peanuts and little bottles of alcoholic stuff to keep him amused? We may never know.
“The Atlantic is the symbolic part of the flight,” said Piccard. “It is symbolic because all the means of transportation have always tried to cross the Atlantic, the first steamboats, the first aeroplane, the first balloons, the first airships and, today, it is the first solar-powered aeroplane.”
“But the goal is not to change aviation, as Charles Lindbergh did, but to inspire people to use [renewable] technologies and show people they can use these technologies every day to have a better quality of life.”
It’s a noble quest, which will soon be complete if all goes to plan. Piccard and his co-pilot Andre Borschberg, who have been taking turns manning the aeroplane, kicked off their journey in Abu Dhabi on March 9th 2015, and the next leg of their journey will be the final one. It’s not all been plain sailing though, with severe damage delaying the project for several months last year. [Guardian]