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Saturday, July 13, 2024

SolarImpulse – Inspiration in Flight

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 23, 2013
6:58 am

Last Friday afternoon, at the invitation of Doug Brunke of GrowthNation, I was privileged to attend a private showing of the SolarImpulse airplane during its stop in Phoenix along its Across America tour.


What a delightful experience!  More than just a fun scientific excursion, to me this was a celebration of innovation, dedication and profound enthusiasm for conquering the impossible.  Bertrand Piccard, co-founder and chairman of SolarImpulse has stated:

Adventure is not necessarily a spectacular deed, but rather an “extra-ordinary” one, meaning something that pushes us outside our normal way of thinking and behaving. Something that forces us to leave the protective shell of our certainties, within which we act and react automatically. Adventure is a state of mind in the face of the unknown, a way of conceiving our existence as an experimental field, in which we have to develop our inner resources, climb our personal  path of evolution and assimilate the ethical and moral values that we need to accompany our voyage.

The solar powered airplane, with a wingspan of 208 feet, uses 2,000 square feet of solar panels to power its flight and charge its batteries, so it can fly both during the day and at night.  It completed a 26 hour day and night flight in 2010.  A second generation aircraft, currently under construction, is scheduled to attempt an around the world flight in 2015.

Besides viewing the airplane and talking to engineers who were preparing for the next leg or its journey to Dallas, Texas, we were addressed by Dr. Piccard and the second pilot, André Borschberg, “an engineer and graduate in management science, a fighter pilot and a professional airplane and helicopter pilot, is the co-founder and CEO.” I found their messages challenging and enlightening.  I applaud their innovation and tenacity.

Several photos I took during the tour have been uploaded to SmugMug if you would care to take a look.

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