Starting in Abu Dhabi, the Solar Impulse will fly to Oman, India, Myanmar, China, across the Pacific to the US with a stopover in Hawaii, and then over the Atlantic to either Southern Europe or North Africa, and back to Abu Dhabi. The longest legs of the trip require the pilot to handle 5 consecutive days in the air in an unpressurized cockpit. At each stop the the crew will host visits of the plane and have meetings with local organizations and press.
For the pilot-entrepreneurs Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the attempt will provide a way to demonstrate how the spirit of innovation as well as the right technology can change the world. Part of the objective is to promote novel technical solutions that can contribute towards combatting climate change while encouraging governments to deploy more ambitious energy policies.
Sign up to receive real-time updates on the trip at their website www.solarimpulse.com. The aircraft takes off on its first leg in late February or early March. It will complete its journey in late July or early August.
Companies contributing to the Solar Impulse effort include Altran, Bayer, Swiss Re, Swisscom and of course Google. Some of the technical institutions supporting Solar Impulse with R&D include Dassault Aviation, Swiss R&D Lab EMPA, and Swiss Polytechnical Institute EPFL.
While I’ve always been an aviation fan, for me this effort is as exciting and inspiring for renewable energy as the moon landing was for space travel. What do you think?