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OUR SOLAR FLIGHTS

For the first time in history, an airplane has succeeded in flying night and day without fuel, powered by nothing but solar energy. Record-breaking flights across Europe, the Mediterranean Sea and the United States brought worldwide attention to the Solar Impulse endeavor, launched by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, proving the enormous potential of clean technologies to protect the natural resources of our planet, and the importance of pioneering spirit to create a brighter future.

8 FAI WORLD RECORDS, INCLUDING

  • Absolute height: 9235 m (30300 ft)

  • Duration: 26 hours, 10 minutes, 19 seconds

  • Free distance: 1506.5 km (936 miles)

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Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.ch

With nine successful flights logged, Solar Impulse 2 is about to enter a new phase in the preparations for its round-the-world flight!

This week-end, Markus Scherdel will make the first high-altitude flight, climbing to more than 20,000 feet (6,000 meters). He will remain airborne for between 12 and 13 hours. This is a further important step forward, enabling the aircraft’s behaviour to be evaluated and studied at high altitudes, where the air starts ...

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This week-end, Markus Scherdel will make the first high-altitude flight, climbing to more than 20,000 feet (6,000 meters). He will remain airborne for between 12 and 13 hours. This is a further important step forward, enabling the aircraft’s behaviour to be evaluated and studied at high altitudes, where the air starts becoming less dense. Until now, the airplane has displayed very stable characteristics, and I’m crossing my fingers that this will remain the case up there aloft!

This phase involves important challenges. Having carried out flights lasting two or three hours, we are now going to test a new area of the flight envelope for the first time: higher altitude and higher airspeed, lower air density. With such an enormous wingspan, the risk of flutter (aeroelasticity) is high. So the forthcoming flight does involve certain risks. This tenth flight will also evaluate the insulation of the cockpit, since the external temperature will drop to about

-20°C. Markus will have to fly the airplane despite experiencing more challenging conditions. Our flight testing team will be carefully monitoring the functioning of the solar generators, the oxygen system, and the Pilot Assistance System (a kind of auto-pilot) from the Mission Control Center (MCC).

I’d been looking forward to this moment impatiently! After all the missions flown in the first prototype Solar Impulse, I’ve finally got my hands on the controls of Si2, the actual round-the-world plane.

Since Markus, our test pilot, first flew it in June, followed by André about ten days ago, my impatience became more and more difficult to contain! When I climbed into the cockpit, I felt a mixture of excitement, concentration, and gratitude to all the team who had contributed to the construction of this technological ...

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Since Markus, our test pilot, first flew it in June, followed by André about ten days ago, my impatience became more and more difficult to contain! When I climbed into the cockpit, I felt a mixture of excitement, concentration, and gratitude to all the team who had contributed to the construction of this technological gem.

To familiarize myself with the aircraft, I started by doing some taxi trials on the runway. Then came the moment to set full power on all four electric motors… and to feel my heart-rate speed up slightly. Once I heard Nils, the ground team chief, say "Main wheel lift-off" in my headset, I could start an hour-long taming of this huge 72 meter wingspan monster. Nothing is done as in a normal plane, so the simulator training sessions really paid off. Then, I had to demonstrate three touchdowns in order to convince Raymond Clerc, my flight instructor. Followed by a champagne celebration with the team!

There is one other thing I wanted to share with you: the beautiful lighting of this sunset over Lake Neuchâtel

This flight was a key milestone in the final run-up to the round-the-world flight. But next year’s adventure will be much more difficult, with flights of up to 5 consecutive days and nights! Today, at least we know that André and I are ready to attempt it.

The best pictures of my first flight are online!

 

 

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