Andre’ Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse project, has been flying the giant airplane over many scenic and civic sites in Switzerland, crossing from its home field at Payerne to Geneva International Airport on September 21, and then returning the same day to Payerne. The next day, Borschberg cruised to Zurich International Airport and returned to the plane’s home base.
As quoted in the project’s press release, Borschberg was happy about the chance to view Switzerland from his rare and lofty perch. “’These flights are just amazing! Thanks to the plane’s low speed, I was able to discover Switzerland from a completely new angle, fully taking in the beauty of our country!’ said André Borschberg, CEO and Co-founder of Solar Impulse, from the cockpit of HB SIA in Zurich. ‘The Swiss solar flights represent a major step forward for our team, taking us away from our customary airspace. We have learned to work together with international airports, merging in with the heavy Swiss air traffic. Our next step will be an international flight, but that’s for next year!’”
Besides giving team pilots a chance to mix it up with Airbus’s and Boeings at the county’s major airports, and to overfly such scenic attractions as the Swiss Parliament Building and the Chateau de Chillon, an inspiration for authors such as Lord Byron, Shelley, and Mark Twain, the flights are being put to good use for education and creative motivation.
Bertrand Piccard, President of Solar Impulse, says, “Using the solar plane as a symbol, our goal is to promote the pioneering spirit in young people, making them aware of the importance of renewable energy, energy saving and new technologies (CleanTechs).”
Swiss students will be able to participate with monthly web-based online lectures and a competition to “reward environmental projects ‘Climate Pioneers’. In addition, an education kit is now downloadable from the www.solarimpulse.com website and [a] 3D animated visit of the airplane is also available.”
Despite the project’s description of these flights as the first solar-powered flights over Switzerland, we must note that Eric Raymond crossed Switzerland on his way to Italy and later topped the Matterhorn (a lifelong dream of his) in Sunseeker II last year.