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08/05 - 2016


21-24 April 2016

The images of the Pacific are still dancing before my eyes, and I hope they will continue to do so for a long time. The West coast of Oahu Island, under my right wing, still follows me. That is where I stole a few hours of my training time to sit with Michèle in front of the ocean and dream about the future. A little further away, the horizon hides the island of Maui where Charles Lindbergh is buried. In his eyes, it was the most beautiful place in the world.

Rapidly, the Pacific appears in front of me in all its splendor. An immense -stretch of water with whom I am about to rub shoulders for 3 days and 2 nights. I am struck with the same impression of vastness I had during my round-the-world balloon flight, except that this time I am alone on board. Alone in a tiny cockpit, hanging by my albatross wings.

On the left side of my flight path, the sun sets for the first time just as the full moon rises on the other side. Between the little clouds scattered beneath me, the moon’s reflections caress the black surface of the ocean. I feel less alone than I had feared. Thousands of kilometers from the California coast, at night and at an altitude of 2,000 meters, I’ve never felt so good, so confident and so serene. I’m surprised not to feel the slightest tinge of anxiety. This is the world that I love, the world of exploration made up of heightened performance, intense concentration, present-moment awareness and respect for my surrounding.

I fly on as if in a dream. The elements escort me peacefully. The course of time has disappeared. I could stay here forever between the sun and the clouds, the moon and the ocean, in this revolutionary airplane which carries me silently.

It could be science fiction, as I explain it by satellite phone to the Secretary General of the United Nations where the Paris Agreement on climate change is being signed at the same time. But no, it’s reality, made possible by clean technologies. One day, these technologies will be mainstream, even banal. Today, however, they fill me with wonder and I hope that the heads of state who are listening to me thousands of kilometers away are feeling the same. I owe this moment to these technologies and to the extraordinary team which made this adventure possible, working day after day for many years now. Without forgetting my Guardian Angel. It was my vision when I started this project: to use its symbolic strength to spread a message and influence world leaders.

The memories of each day and each night take root deeply inside me. With my second consecutive non-stop night flight, I join the ranks of Dick Rutan, Jeana Yeager, Steve Fossett and André Borschberg. All the other aviators since 1903 had to land earlier to fill up their gas tanks.

When the American coast appears in the distance, it brings me no joy, only a slight feeling of relief. I don’t want this journey to end. Slowly, very slowly, I fly over the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge that, for decades, welcomed waves of immigrants searching for a land of freedom. Today, it’s a solar airplane that is crossing the bridge and freedom is no longer a country but an inexhaustible and free source of energy.

André welcomes me over the San Francisco Bay, above which I fly for another 3 hours. As night falls, I have to head down toward Silicon Valley for landing. My wheels touch down, but I don’t. I can see myself leaving the cockpit, but my mind stays inside; I thank the team and greet the crowd but all I really see are the moon’s reflections on the vast ocean. I haven’t really landed.