Solar Impulse, which counts Richard Branson among its patrons, is led by Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard. They have been pushing boundaries of aviation since 2003, when their dream of traversing the air without the resources of traditional fuels began to take flight. As the crew themselves once said:
“We have not tried to replicate, but to travel in a different way, to change the paradigm.”
Rezo.ch Solar Impulse
Now, over a decade later, the second prototype aircraft from the company has successfully flown for the first time. The model used is the HB-SIB, following on from Solar Impulse’s first aircraft, the HB-SIA.
Using more of a unique technology, the HB-SIB’s development has been designed specifically to hold the powers to circumnavigate the globe on pure solar power. The mission to build such a creative vehicle has been a challenging one, taking over 12 years of design concepts and construction to complete the logistics of its solar-intentions.
With over 50 engineers working away, not to mention over 100 professional advisors, Solar Impulse 2 has had a bumpy ride to fruition. However, Bertrand Piccard has always been brimming with confidence about the future, with solar round-the-world flights planned for 2015. As he told us in a guest-blog earlier this year:
“We need visions to become a reality. The impossible can be achieved only if we learn how to think and act outside of the usual certitudes and convictions. This is called pioneering spirit and it is what we all need to invent a better future.”
The result? A test passed with flying colours, with the maiden flight lasting a total of two hours and 17 minutes at an altitude of 5,500ft and a ground speed of 55.6km/h. In layman’s terms: that’s a lot of ear popping.
Jubilant, the team’s dramatic achievement takes them one step closer to circumnavigating the world using renewable energy alone.
With the brave Scherdel greeted by founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, (and of course: champagne) the pioneer’s momentous flight takes Solar Impulse soaring into a greener future for aviation in 2015.
Written by @SophieHall