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Tricky, but unforgettable! Thanks to Altran…

I was told before I took off from Rabat that I should be prepared for what would be, tactically speaking, Solar impulse’s trickiest flight ever.

As things turned out, it was a pure pleasure-ride for me,  especially when I spent two hours flying backwards, because the headwind was stronger than my maximum speed. I could sit there admiring the sun setting in the west whilst actually travelling towards the east!

So who was it difficult for then? For the team that planned the mission. They had done an outstanding job finding a feasible flight trajectory, despite the very strong winds at altitude, by making the aircraft climb a long way to the north, so as then to allow it to drift backwards towards Madrid. When I talk about mission planning, it’s not just since the day before yesterday that they have been planning….  but for several years! Christophe Beeseau  and Stéphane Yong of the Altran company designed an IT tool, which they named Platoo (Planning Tool), and comprehensively tested it, to allow calculation of the best flight profiles for different combinations of wind, sunlight,  battery levels, relief, prohibited areas etc.

Now, if you just let them play around with their clever little gadget, add some input from the mission controllers, from our weather genius Luc Trullemans, and the magicians of air traffic control, Niklaus Gerber and Michel Masserey, and then mix in some voices in my headset belonging to people you are getting to know - thanks to Solar Impulse TV - such as Raymond Clerc, Christoph Schlettig, Michael Anger and Ralph Paul, what do you think emerges?  Maybe the most difficult flight in tactical terms ever attempted by the team, but for me anyway the most  fantastic flight in my whole career as a pilot !

Many thanks, my friends! You brought me back in one piece, but also smiling from ear to ear!

I was told before I took off from Rabat that I should be prepared for what would be, tactically speaking, Solar impulse’s trickiest flight ever.

As things turned out, it was a pure pleasure-ride for me,  especially when I spent two hours flying backwards, because the headwind was stronger than my maximum speed. ...



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