BERTRAND PICCARD: MY FIRST FLIGHT IN SI2 !
Since Markus, our test pilot, first flew it in June, followed by André about ten days ago, my impatience became more and more difficult to contain! When I climbed into the cockpit, I felt a mixture of excitement, concentration, and gratitude to all the team who had contributed to the construction of this technological gem.
To familiarize myself with the aircraft, I started by doing some taxi trials on the runway. Then came the moment to set full power on all four electric motors… and to feel my heart-rate speed up slightly. Once I heard Nils, the ground team chief, say "Main wheel lift-off" in my headset, I could start an hour-long taming of this huge 72 meter wingspan monster. Nothing is done as in a normal plane, so the simulator training sessions really paid off. Then, I had to demonstrate three touchdowns in order to convince Raymond Clerc, my flight instructor. Followed by a champagne celebration with the team!
This flight was a key milestone in the final run-up to the round-the-world flight. But next year’s adventure will be much more difficult, with flights of up to 5 consecutive days and nights! Today, at least we know that André and I are ready to attempt it.