Solar Impulse 2 – landing in Hawaii today

Posted by Ivan Rendall on Saturday, 3 July 2015 in Blogging

The website for Solar Impulse 2 is a wonderland of engineering communications and involvement. Any young person will be fascinated to look at the human story, the technical story, the climate change story but above all at the communications and the opportunities for involvement in what the pilots and the support team are doing and why.

It’s full of science but it’s also full of quietly spoken human endeavour and for me (aged 68, I grew up before aircraft and jet engines had shrunk the world) it’s an adventure as big as Alcock and Brown, Amy Johnson, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager or Neil Armstrong.

It is a landmark flight. This afternoon SI2 will land in Hawaii after nearly five days flying on sunlight alone. The pilot, Andre Borschberg, is surfing the weather at speeds around 40 mph, not punching holes in the sky at over 500 mph. His aircraft works like a leaf, it photosynthesises today’s sunlight rather than burning fossilised sunlight from millions years ago and many young people alive today will travel in its descendants.

This is as big a big shift in human transport (and all the social, cultural, technical and economic developments that go with mass movement of peoples) as the internal combustion and jet engines in the 20th century. And anybody can follow it in detail. It’s also backed by a mega collection of communications and technology brands.

As we struggle to clear up the detritus of the 20th century, so SI2 is a peek at the 21st. Young people could do a lot worse than go to the solar impulse website and follow it today, then across America, the Atlantic and Africa before landing in Abu Dhabi to complete its circumnavigation.

If you’re looking for inspiration, virtually all aspects of life on the planet are there; you can even learn how to make a paper glider!

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