Abu Dhabi / Zurich: Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are piloting the first round-the-world flight without using any fossil fuel, just solar energy, and New7Wonders is supporting their historic adventure with an initiative that shares the mission’s goal of using clean technologies and renewable energy.
The Solar Impulse plane took off from Abu Dhabi this morning and during its journey the global public is encouraged to get involved in the mission by following a live-stream of the flight and by voting for the vision of a clean-energy future on www.FutureIsClean.org.
“The entire New7Wonders team wishes Bertrand and André the best luck and a safe return,” says Bernard Weber, Founder-President of New7Wonders, who points out that Bertrand Piccard is a Patron of New7Wonders.
A highlight of the movement’s first campaign was the New7Wonders World Tour, which captured international attention in 2006 and 2007 as it circumnavigated the globe and, says Bernard Weber, “This time a New7Wonders supporter and champion from the very early days is going on a World Tour.”
The technology: The carbon-fibre Solar Impulse aircraft has a wingspan of 72 metres — wider than a Boeing 747 jet, yet it weighs only 2.3 tonnes, no more than a modern sedan car. The wings are covered by thousands of solar cells that drive four electric motors at speeds of up to 140km/h. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries, which keep the plane’s propellers turning through the night.
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The challenge: Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will take turns at the controls for five consecutive days and nights during their 35,000km journey, logging an expected 500 flight hours. The adventure represents an enormous physical test for both men in an unpressurized and unheated single-seat-cockpit coping with temperatures ranging from +40°C to -40°C. Solar Impulse is fully sustainable in terms of energy; the job of the pilots now is to showcase that its sustainability is realistic for humans as well.