Rare in-flight interview with Bertrand Piccard, pilot of solar-powered plane

CCTV News

Bertrand Piccard piloting the Solar Impulse 2. (Solar Impulse/Revillard/Rezo.ch) Bertrand Piccard piloting the Solar Impulse 2. (Solar Impulse/Revillard/Rezo.ch)

Bertrand Piccard has not slept in more than three days. He’s in a space barely big enough to stretch out. And he has to get permission from a scheduler before he can brush his teeth.

Yet, Piccard says he will be “sad” when life returns to normal.

Piccard is in the middle of a historic solar-powered flight across the Atlantic Ocean – flying from New York City to Seville, Spain on his plane, the Solar Impulse 2.

“I think it’s really one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” Piccard told CCTV America in a rare in-flight interview.

“I flew across the Atlantic once in a balloon. I flew around the world non-stop in a balloon. But each time we were two people… This time I’m alone. And when you’re alone it’s an even higher level of emotion. So I don’t look forward [to] the landing, I have to say.”
–Bertrand Piccard

Solar plane pilot Bertrand Piccard on end of flight

Solar plane pilot Bertrand Piccard on end of flight

CCTV America inteviewed Bertrand Piccard, one of two pilots of the Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane that is traveling around the world to promote clean energy.

Piccard truly seems to be enjoying himself – despite the limitations of flying in a solar-powered plane.

While the plane has the same wingspan as a Boeing 747, it only seats one person. And it’s light – weighing about as much as a minivan. That makes it prone to fluctuations in wind and turbulence. Piccard controls what he can – like the food.

He has four meals each day. At sunrise, he eats breakfast – cereal with powdered milk and water. “That’s the nicest moment,” he said.

Throughout the day, he has a vegetable dish called tabbouleh. He can heat up soup to eat with bread. And he has supper – either chicken with potato or risotto with mushroom. The meals were specially designed by the food company Nestle.

Solar plane pilot on what he eats when he flies

Solar plane pilot on what he eats when he flies

CCTV America inteviewed Bertrand Piccard, one of two pilots of the Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane that is traveling around the world to promote clean energy.

“It can stand the big differences of temperature,” Bertrand said of his food. “Because it’s freezing cold and sometimes very warm in the cockpit. It can stand like this for several days and give all the calories that we need for high altitude and for low altitude because it’s not the same that we need to eat.”

You might say Piccard was made for a mission like this.

His father, Jacques, developed underwater vehicles to study ocean currents. At the age of 11, Piccard met Charles Lindbergh (a man Piccard calls a “pioneer who changed the world of aviation”).

The meeting clearly had an impact on him, inspiring him into a life of exploration and education. He’s a certified physician – a psychiatrist — by trade. Through his medical training, he’s learned the art of self-hypnosis. It gives his mind a break, while keeping him awake.

Today, it’s Bertrand Piccard that people are calling a pioneer.

Bertrand Piccard, pilot of solar plane, on being called a pioneer

Bertrand Piccard, pilot of solar plane, on being called a pioneer

Betrand Piccard, pilot of solar plane, on achieving his dreams

“I’m deeply moved when I hear that. I was inspired by these pioneers when I was a child. And I always tried to follow the examples they gave me. Today, what I try to do is not change the world of aviation like Lindbergh did,” Piccard told CCTV America.

“I try to change energy policy. I try to implement clean technologies in the world. I try to inspire people to do it because the technologies exist. They allow me to fly across the Atlantic Ocean with no fuel. The question now is a state of mind that we are missing in this world.”

Betrand Piccard, pilot of solar plane, on achieving dreams

Betrand Piccard, pilot of solar plane, on achieving dreams

CCTV America inteviewed Bertrand Piccard, one of two pilots of the Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane that is traveling around the world to promote clean energy.