“When I was a child, humanity dreamed of sending a man to the Moon. This epic mission fascinated me and the feats of the astronauts inspired me to such an extent that I myself became an explorer.
The heroes of my childhood were those who set out to discover mysterious regions, to conquer the ocean depths and space. At present, the challenges have changed along with the meaning of exploration. Today’s heroes are those who commit themselves to improve the quality of life on our planet. It is they who should inspire you, through their ways of thinking and doing, to become a modern times explorer.
To that end, you ought to begin by developing an interest in the world and trying to understand it. You should ask questions about every topic, many questions, and never be satisfied with easy answers such as “you’re too young to understand” or “that’s just the way it is.” That’s how I operated as a child, sometimes driving my entourage crazy as they ran out of answers. This honed my curiosity and made me want to discover what others did not understand. I gradually developed in my mind a compass whose needle did not point North, but towards the unknown, everything that had yet to be discovered.
The first value I learned was thus curiosity, without which you don’t try anything new. But this is combined, as you’ll see in this book, with perseverance without which you can’t achieve what you undertake. And lastly, respect, which gives full meaning to our successes.
Bear this in mind when you consider your future possibilities, when you’ll have to decide about your studies and your profession. You have the right to believe in your dreams and to give yourself the means to achieve them.”
The Solar Impulse epic is part of a long tradition of scientific and human challenges that made the history of aviation and changed the world.
It all started after Bertrand’s successful flight around the world in a balloon. Indeed, in addition to his adventurous spirit, Bertrand has always been concerned about environmental protection. In order to communicate his message to the entire world, he dreams of building the first airplane able to fly day and night without any fuel. A wild idea, a perilous feat but a magnificent symbol for our planet.
And what an adventure it was to build this airplane! As in any revolutionary project, you have to invent strategies from scratch. This means pushing back the boundaries of what you know, daring to question yourself, making tough choices, abiding by constraints and making compromises… Finally, after many years spent making calculations, building the airplane, conducting test flights and training, the adventure began in 2015.
There were many incredible stories during the 40’000km journey of course, such as when the Indian authorities forgot to stamp Bertrand’s passport upon his arrival, making him a clandestine pilot on Indian soil, or when the itinerary of the plane was rerouted because of weather conditions to... Dayton, the hometown of the Wright Brothers, who were the first to fly in an airplane in the early 20th century. Imagine that, one century later, two pioneers could fly around the world with clean energy.
At every stop, in Abu Dhabi, India, Japan, the USA, or Spain, lots of kids came to admire this unique airplane with their own eyes… In front of this revolutionary airplane with 17,248 solar cells, they measured the feat, the horizon of change that it announced and imagined a different future made of sustainable solutions.
A story, a success and a message in the sky that lead children to believe in their dreams, to open up to the range of possibilities and to become explorers of the world of tomorrow.
How can we imagine tomorrow’s world and what can we do concretely for our planet?
Bertrand seeks to show that solutions exist in many places in the world, even though they are concealed too often in young companies or research laboratories, and he wishes to encourage their implementation. Therefore, he has taken up the new challenge of gathering together one thousand of these solutions capable of transforming our cities, our agriculture, our industry, our transportation and the way we produce energy, in order to improve our way of life. Bertrand and The Solar Impulse Foundation focus their action on five areas to mobilize solutions: energy, water, consumption and production, industry, cities and mobility.
Are you ready to follow Bertrand on this new around-the-world journey … of solutions?
Some of the above texts are taken from the book "Flying on Sunshine" by Michèle Piccard (Ed. Larousse Jeunesse)