UnNews:Pilot describes Solar Impulse mission as “very groovy”

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Pilot describes Solar Impulse mission as “very groovy”

Truth doesn't "live here" — It's just camping out

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6 May 2016


It's Been a Hard Day's Night. The Solar Impulse 2 lands in Phoenix, Arizona for a 12-inch vinyl change-out and some fresh joss sticks.

PHOENIX, Arizona -- The solar-powerd airplane Solar Impulse 2 landed in Phoenix and made preparations for the leg to New York.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard told eco-fans after his flight from San Francisco that the project was “very groovy”. The solar airplane — which flies with no fuel, grows its own vegetables, and has two compost heaps — has 17,248 solar cells and 14 mini-greenhouse cloches across the wing, powering four lithium batteries, one pilot and a 1967 Steepletone SRP1R-11 3-speed record player.

Looking as if it would be more at home providing irrigation to a field of crops, ground crew buzzed around the aircraft, waving incense, applying an organic mulch and changing out the dream catchers.

During his live interview from the apron, Piccard was asked about his background and how he became the pilot for this project. Piccard replied: ”It's been a trip, man, coming from a commune in the 60s where hundreds of us lived in a yurt at the bottom of Ken Kesey's garden, to circumnavigating the planet using the power of the sun. It took a skank, a bit of Neil Young and a groovy amount of LSD to decide to beet feat and bug-out. Neil Young inspired me with the line: “There is a place in North Ontario … all my changes were there.” I totally dug that.”

The test pilot went on: “The changes he also meant were powerful spiritual changes, that were the root of the flower-child movement … or maybe that was the LSD talking.... It was far out; in 1965 I started a profound spiritual quest to find myself and my destiny. Finally, in 2015, I found myself in Dubai and my destiny was to become ballast for a planet saving eco-project.”

He was then asked about training: “It's just gardening and hanging loose in a small space, high above the planet man. Provided you have plenty of weed over from your two year freak-out out in India, it's a wheeze. I will admit, the rest of the guys are pretty square, but grooving to Here comes the sun by The Beatles just after takeoff and The Byrds Eight Miles High, when both Solar Impulse 2 and I are well on our way to the stratosphere, is outta sight.”

The plane's maximum altitude is 27,900ft (8,500m) but this drops to 3,280ft (1,000m), when the pilot is able to take short breaks, provided the pilot happens to be sleepy at the time, or seems to be asleep already. The trans-Pacific leg was the riskiest part of the plane's global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites. Although its most recent legs were a success, the aircraft faced a few bumps along the way.

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Piccard was asked about emergencies: “I had a couple of hairy moments, yes. I almost forgot my Tarot cards on one leg. Another scary occasion was when I plugged in a travel kettle, which pretty much wiped out the batteries on just one cup of nettle tea. I hadn't noticed we had been over the Pacific Ocean for the last three days either. Luckily, it was daytime and we were high, but it resulted in two days of Blowing in the Wind on the guitar for me, because Mission Control turned off the record player to help recover the batteries.”

The overall goal of the project is to fly around the world using only solar power and energy efficient technologies, demonstrating the possibilities of clean, renewable energy for putting hippies in the sky. While most of the pilot's time will be spent on essentials to the success of the flight — such as meditation, yoga, self-hypnosis and lowering the landing gear — Piccard said there’s also enough extra time to perform some non-essential activities as well, such as contemplation, stretching out and zoning out.

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