Swiss explorer and environmentalist Bertrand Piccard flew around the globe in a solar-powered airplane. He described the experience as something that “feels like science fiction.” With no noise, pollution or fuel, he said that it feels like one can fly forever.
Bertrand Piccard: Flying on solar impulse ‘feels like science fiction’
“You think ‘I’m already in the future,’ but it’s the present,” Piccard said.
In 1999, Piccard flew around the world in a balloon, burning as many as 3.7 tonnes of liquid propane in that flight. Subsequently, he came up with the idea of a solar-powered airplane. Afraid that he would fall short of gas, Piccard wondered how to fly perpetually with no fuel gauge.
“The idea of having a solar powered airplane that fills up its batteries during the day with the sunlight to spend the night in the air and reach the next sunrise and continue” was born after his balloon ride across the world, he said.
Bertrand Piccard: ‘What really scares me is to live in a world that burns 1 million ton of oil every hour’
“What really scares me is to live in a world that burns 1 million ton of oil every hour and pollutes the planet and depletes natural resources,” Piccard said. “But to fly several days and several nights in a solar plane, it’s magical.”
Piccard said today’s technology does not allow 200 people to fly on solar impulse, but it’s not impossible to achieve such. He cited the example of the Wright Brothers, who did not have the technology to transport passengers.
In 10 years, there will be electrical planes able to carry 50 people on short haul, he said.
“People need clean technology today,” he said.