Circling the Globe in a Solar-Powered Plane

(upbeat music) – There are so many people in
life, they forget to dream, because they're afraid of going
out of their comfort zone. – [Narrator] 13 years ago,
two enterprising pilots shared a dream to achieve the impossible. Their goal? To build the first solar-powered plane to fly around the world, ushering in an aviation future free of fossil fuels and pollution. – Our goal is to simply
demonstrate that it's feasible. – Tango, x-ray. – [Narrator] Their plan was ambitious, to cross the globe in 17 legs
over the course of a year, logging 25,000 miles. Taking turns in the cockpit, co-pilots Bertrand Piccard
and Andre Borschberg knew that they would face technical and operational challenges, – We have to go back. – [Narrator] while battling
weather and the elements – It has been really a difficult moment. – [Narrator] in an unprecedented bid for adventure and glory. – When I was a child,
all the people I knew were explorers,
adventurers, and astronauts. – You know, when I was a boy, I read a lot of books about the
pilots who opened the lines, basically discovered the
world through airplanes. – [Announcer] He is determined
to succeed this time.

He's has spent– – My grandfather was the first
man in the stratosphere, inventing the pressurized capsule. Then my father made the deepest dive ever, touching the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot on Earth, and showing that the deepest trenches in the oceans had to be protected. – And I was fascinating by the people who tried something
new, something different. – I thought exploration
was the only way to live! I flew nonstop around
the world in a balloon. We burned almost four tons of propane gas. It was pollution. I was thinking, how can
I do it with no fuel, and this is how the dream
of Solar Impulse started. Flying a solar-powered airplane that produces its own
electricity with the sun, store the electricity in batteries, so you can fly through the night, fly to the next sunrise forever. – When I met Bertrand 13 years ago, I immediately had the impression that my life was crossing
something extremely important. – I found that Andre was
the missing part of me, and I was the missing part of him. He's the engineer,
entrepreneur, jet fighter pilot. I'm a medical doctor, I'm an explorer, so I asked him if he would agree to partner with me to do it, and he accepted immediately.

Together, we could be
the complete human being. (applause) It's a very difficult airplane to fly, maybe the most difficult
airplane in the world to fly, because of its huge wingspan, very lightweight, and
sensitivity to turbulence. This you have to master completely. – So at the beginning, you
would just overcontrol it, it's a disaster. Using the simulator, it allowed us really to get the feeling about the personality of this airplane, to know how to handle it.

– I had the clearance from the tower, and I could put full throttle. No noise from the engines,
and the plane taking off, and I'm just looking to stay in the air for as long as I can, no limits. (dreamy orchestral music) When we travel, it takes three days to fly where other people would fly with a jet plane in eight hours. But you know that you
can stay there forever. And what is magical is to look at the sun, to look at the propellers on both side, to see them turning without
noise and without pollution, and to think, I'm in the
film of science fiction! It cannot be true! But it is true! (propellers hum) So as soon as Andre can put full power on the four electrical engines, the around the world will start.

And I repeat, always, it's an attempt. The around the world with Solar Impulse II started in March 2015. Andre and I, we took turns in the cockpit. (tense music) Prince Albert is next to me, and he will give the official go, and then the adventure will start. – My friend, it's a great
pleasure to wish you all the best for this fantastic
crossing of the Pacific, so you are cleared to proceed
with the take-off procedures. (applause) – As soon as I took off for Japan, one important equipment failed. Immediately, the engineers told me that I had to return to Japan to fix it. But I looked at the cockpit
and it was the first time that the weather was
improving over the Pacific.

– I would say we have to go
back, as we have the choice. – The engineers never understood that, they never understood why
I was taking this risk. Some of them wanted to resign immediately, and I decided to continue on. – It's only so much we can do to support you from here, from the ground. You will be on your own. – It has been really a difficult moment, do we go, we don't go, but the weather is good,
the plane flies well, it's worth trying. – [Andre] I did meditation,
I couldn't sleep. Slowly at sunrise I could
throw this emotion overboard, and I could go back to what
I've been dreaming about, to enjoy these days I was
over the Pacific Ocean. – I don't know how many
records we were setting in this flight and it’s the most difficult flight of the whole journey around
the world that we succeeded. (applause) – Exploration is not only
when you are successful and you raise the flag of victory. (cheers) It's through all these moments where you have the impression to lose control.

– The Solar Impulse II
mission started in Abu Dhabi, with many stop overs. Across Asia first, over the Pacific, across the United States, over the Atlantic, across
the Mediterranean Sea, and to get back here in the Middle East. – I crossed the finish
line over Abu Dhabi, and I had one hour and a half in the air waiting before landing. I could be in the full
emotion of the success, but still in the full
emotion of the adventure. At that moment, I thought
everything is possible. Everything is possible. Why don't we dream more? Why don't we try more? (cheers) A few hours ago, I had to
open the door of the cockpit, I had to land, and this flight around the world became memories. (applause) – What we did here was
true pioneering work, and that's the story, is understanding the potential
of these technologies. In 10 years, we will
use electric airplanes, maybe not solar, this will take more time, but certainly electric. – If you have an impossible goal, the people who are going to
support you are pioneers..

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