A few days ago, André Borschberg, my "solar brother", embarked on the most ambitious leg of the Solar Impulse journey around the globe – flying from China to Hawaii - before I would continue to America.
We always knew that this would be the moment of truth, testing our technical solutions and ourselves, the pilots, to the limits. It turned out that technological and human elements can stand up to this challenge, but it's the bad weather that's stopping us. Mother Nature is not under our control. Due to a cold front over the ocean blocking our path to Hawaii we decided to divert the plane to Nagoya airport in Japan, where André landed safely June 1st.
Now André and the team are waiting for better weather in Japan. As soon as we find the next window we will continue our flight around the world.
I must say these last few days have been very intense and emotional. From the mission control center in Monaco we observed the weather becoming worse. And it was not at all easy to make this decision to divert and land in Nagoya. However, André's safety is our top priority. We don't want to risk flying through ice and rain. Solar Impulse 2 flies slowly and is sensitive to turbulence, and it needs sun to be able to recharge its batteries.
Despite the unforeseen landing in Japan, we are celebrating a new big record - the 44-hour long flight from Nanjing to Nagoya is the longest ever solar flight in both distance and duration! Solar Impulse flew through the night and fully recharged the batteries during the day. This validates the vision I had 16 years ago of an airplane that could fly perpetually without any fuel, and the work the technical team has achieved under the direction of André.
For me this has been extremely interesting to follow this particular flight closely from the mission control center. We have not made such long flights before and seeing the skills and the devotion of the team here in Monaco gave me confidence for the next leg of the journey, when I take over Solar Impulse's controls in Hawaii.
Although the stopover in Japan is a change to our original plans and maybe the journey is not progressing as fast as we would like, the Round-the-World flight is not a race. Doing this as quickly as possible was never our goal. Above all with this adventure, we are trying to demonstrate that we can achieve the impossible with clean technologies. And as always, having Swiss Re Corporate Solutions as our partner and sole insurance provider, gives us a huge peace of mind during this mission. They help us realize our dreams by taking care of the risk and insuring something which so many others considered uninsurable.
You can support our journey by taking part in our « Future Is Clean » global action. Also, don't forget to watch short film series produced by History Channel Flight
for the Future: Pioneers in Risk.
Category: Sustainable energy: Solar