The first solar global circumnavigation flight successfully landed at the Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in China on 31 March. Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard departed from Myanmar for the fifth leg of its epic journey on 30 March at 3:36am local time (9:06pm on 29th GMT) and landed 20 hours and 29 minutes later, having covered 1,459km.
Flying above the mountainous Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan required a steep climb at the beginning of the journey and continuous flying at high altitude, so Piccard faced temperatures of minus 20° Celsius and wore an oxygen mask in the 3.8m3 unpressurised cockpit. Strong low level winds in Chongqing made the flight one of the most challenging to date.
Jean-Jacques de Dardel, the Swiss Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China was at the airport to welcome the Solar Impulse team, alongside Mr Ai Yang, Deputy Secretary General of Chongqing Municipal Government.
The Solar Impulse 2 team organised a series of events demonstrating that innovation is the key to sustainable development. “Solar Impulse is an audacious adventure demonstrating typical Swiss innovative teamwork. I am glad it will henceforth have a Chinese content,” said Swiss Ambassador Jean-Jacques de Dardel.
The vision of a future centred on clean, renewable energy, is shared by Solar Impulse Chinese host partners, CAST (Chinese Association of Science and Technology). Together they have organised visits and conferences for schools and universities to spread the message to the young generation. The key event, involving 1600 students, took place in Chongqing at the Bashu Secondary School.
“China has become number one in wind power and in solar panel production, and if you look at how much efforts the Chinese government is making to increase the use of renewable energy to optimise the energy mix, there is no surprise that Solar Impulse is so well received in the country,” said André Borschberg, co-founder of Solar Impulse, who will be the pilot for the next flight to Nanjing.
LIU Yadong, Deputy Director General of China Association of Science and Technology said: “We are very glad to collaborate with Solar Impulse to popularise edgy scientific knowledge among Chinese youth.”