Busy bees at work for Bertrand’s training flight

Sunday 10th April 2016

Looking out of his cockpit window, Bertrand Piccard was in awe once again. In the Pacific Ocean below, a pod of dolphins flew out of the water. Our pilot frantically looked around to see if he could spot Joe the Shark, luckily he was nowhere to be seen. Joe might still be preparing for his ultimate bait!

He took off from Kalaeloa airport at 16:13 UTC and climbed up to 20,000ft. At 10:47 UTC, Bertrand landed Si2 back on the runway, finishing a long and fruitful 18 hours and 38 minutes high altitude training flight.

The flight began a bit turbulent but the skies were clear. Halfway through the flight, clouds began to accumulate and with coordination from the Mission engineers at the Mission Control Center in Monaco, Bertrand worked on avoiding them by changing direction and altitude.

The importance of practicing long, high altitude flights is clear for an aircraft like Si2. Three quarters of the flight through, Bertrand said, “I will soon reach 16 hours of flight in the sky of Hawaii. For Si2, it is the minimum duration to call it a flight! For an airplane that can fly forever without fuel, a shorter flight is not interesting…”

Bertrand has carried out system checks on the aircraft, including oxygen, health, wake-up, and communication controls. He had a lot of resting time during this flight in order to practice sleeping in turbulent conditions and to check how the Stability Augmentation System (system helping Si2 to remain stable while resting) system functions.

André Borschberg explains that “Bertrand’s successful training flight brings us one more step towards being able to leave mid to end April.”

We will keep you updated on our next moves and more details on our next flight! We could be heading to the West Coast soon… If you haven’t already, subscribe here.

This blog post has been originally published here.