Solar plane pilots say trip was also test of human endurance
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The two Swiss pilots taking turns to fly a solar-powered airplane around the world said Sunday the endeavor is not only a demonstration of the importance of renewable energy but also of the many challenges the human body can endure.
Pilot Bertrand Piccard completed a risky, three-day flight across a great expanse of the Pacific Ocean while sleeping only 20 minutes at a time inside the plane’s tiny cockpit with no heat or air conditioning and while having to keep constant contact with the Europe-based control center.
“You have interviews, navigation control, communications with the control center in Monaco. You have health checks, a lot of health checks,” Piccard said. “It’s very active, there are a lot of things to do, but you can nevertheless enjoy it.”
Piccard said he uses self-hypnosis to keep his energy up and puts heating pads inside his shoes and gloves for warmth. He said he has no complaints about the ready-made meals he can warm up with a special heat packet and that can include risotto, chicken curry and potatoes.
On Sunday, special guests, many of them with Google, which is sponsoring the project, had a first look at the plane inside a huge white tent at Moffett Airfield. The guests also mingled and took photos with Piccard and fellow Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg.