Fly around the world in a plane powered totally by sunshine? That’s crazy talk! While the 2015-future shown in the Back to the Future trilogy suggested flying cars – which humanity has yet to perfect – a sun-powered plane IS a reality and the globe-circling mission is well on its way. With a more-than-decade-long commitment of vision-driven pioneers, the Solar Impulse 2 has already flown 8 of 14 legs to circle the globe.
It will change the world. This is about exploration, about clean technologies to power the world, about innovation, community teamwork and simply the creativity of the human spirit.
Now is a time for reflection on where humanity is on our journey and how we got here. Will we continue down the fantasy path that our Earth-destroying addiction to dirty fossil fuels can last forever? The question “What is possible now?” is being answered by Solar Impulse.
This is a project of epic proportions, capturing the public’s imagination and enthusiasm. The most recent flight from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii tested the prior 12 years of development and world-record, preparatory flights. The flight also was a feat of great technological achievement and human endurance. 5 days and 5 nights in the air without fuel over the greatest expanse of water on the planet!
Solar Impulse was the vision of one man, Bertrand Picard, a Swiss third-generation explorer, psychiatrist and balloonist. Bertrand’s vision has created a team that has already achieved the unthinkable: the all-night first flight on stored sunlight in 2010 and a US transcontinental flight in 2012.
Both technical and human risk has been accepted and conquered by vision, imagination, and conviction. The test of man’s current limitations has been overcome by seeing what needs to be done, and stepping into the unknown with commitment to well-designed goals.
These head-based solutions to challenges have been propelled by heart-based passion for a better future—for the Good of the Whole. Sparking the possibilities for a cleaner technology future to serve the next seven generations is the basis of this monumental effort.
Solar Impulse has been a living demonstration of “It takes a village.” The focused community representing a vast array of human talent has been assembled. The individual gifts molded into a collective energy propelled with light – sunlight. A delicious mix of elder wisdom and youthful enthusiasm is the fuel of the “Round-The-World" project.
The percentage of young team members is powerful. But perhaps the engagement of the world’s school kids in the Round-the-World project is the most significant? It is this generation that will see the use of technology for good – and take humanity forward. The Solar Impulse pilots have been committed to a connection with schools and universities at every stop – and while in-flight. Every element of the flight from airspeed, altitude, solar gain and storage to the pilot’s heartbeat and sleep/meditation cycles is transmitted real-time on the Internet to a worldwide audience of school children. Student engagement also includes a number of educational projects and activities.
Solar Impulse and the Round-the-World project is a perfect example of humanity creating toward the Good of the Whole: heart-centered collaboration for a sustainable future and respectful of Mother Earth.