The Solar Impulse 2 team is both excited and nervous as one of its pilots, André Borschberg, prepares to fly the solar-powered plane solo from China to Hawaii in the “most challenging” leg of the bid to fly around the world.
Borschberg, the 62-year-old CEO and co-founder of Si2, will cross the Pacific Ocean in a flight that is expected to last five days and five nights. The Si2 uses solar-powered batteries to run its motors during the day and night.
“Emotions here are mixed, with excitement and nervousness at the same time. We think André is ready to take this leap and ready to do what no one has done before,” Sanjeev Kumar Bhanot, the yoga instructor of Borschberg and another Si2 Swiss pilot, Bertrand Piccard, told Hindustan Times.
The two pilots are taking turns to fly the Si2 around the globe in a five-month mission, the world’s first such attempt. The goal of the flight is to promote renewable energy.
Piccard flew the aircraft with a wingspan of 72 metres to China’s Nanjing in the sixth leg of the round-the-world trip on April 21. “In Nanjing, spirits are high which also means a lot of pressure on the team...Pilots also (did) hours of preparations. Yoga for the Si2 team is one of the main survival tools,” Bhanot said.
Some of the questions arising from the scheduled Pacific Ocean crossing are: Is the pilot capable of flying solo continuously for five days? Can the pilot endure the journey, sitting in the cockpit of the aircraft, with not much room to move? How will the team tackle an emergency over the ocean?
“(I) need to make sure I am ready for potential cases of emergency above the #Pacific,” Borschberg tweeted on Sunday.
“We trust the universe will be as generous as it has been (in the past),” Bhanot said.
Borschberg and Piccard have derived strength from yoga in their bid to make the epic 35,000-km journey in 12 legs.
“The technology which has been used by yogis to deal with challenges of extreme weather and mental or physical stress is as relevant as ever. André is a very dedicated student and extremely disciplined as well...I am happy to represent India on the project,” Bhanot said about his work with the Si2 team.
"The training for the #Pacific crossing with #Si2 never ends...#Yoga is used by @andreborschberg to warm his body with little available oxygen & cool it in the heat of the sun!" the Si2’s Twitter handle posted on Sunday.