In-flight interview with Solar Impulse 2 pilot Captain Piccard
Hey everybody, my name is Steven Beacham im here with cnet.com and we're going to attempt a live in flight interview with captain of the Solar Impulse 2, solar powered airplane, Bertram Beckard, he's somewhere over the desert.
In the Middle East right now, and we're gonna try to connect with him via satellite.
And I'm gonna do an interview live over Facebook live stream and YouTube, with him, with a long delay, so it's gonna be a little difficult.
But just stand by, this is from solarimpulse.com, this is their web site, this is a live stream they are putting out right now.
He's on the last leg of his trip around the world on a solar powered airplane.
So stay tuned.
We're gonna get this going here.
So hang in there.
We'll be right back with you guys shortly.
My name is Steven [UNKNOWN] in San Francisco with cnet.com.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
How are you doing?
I hear you well now.
Well, things are going smoothly this morning with the sunrise over the desert of sand of Saudi Arabia, but the night was really bumpy.
It was turbulent with the heat.
You know a lot of thermals.
Not the smoothest night I could have.
I really had to fight with my flight controls.
But the day of yesterday had been gorgeous with the desert of Egypt, the cresting of the Red Sea, the arrival of the mountains of Saudi.
It's a beautiful flight, I have to say.
Were you able to get any rest last night?
Last night, no rest, this morning a little bit, just before sunrise, I had the first light of the new day of the horizon, and here I could make a few naps.
But you know at the end I'm not here to sleep.
I'm here to fly the plane.
I'm here to [INAUDIBLE] so if I can sleep of course I'm in a better shape and it's easier.
That's the goal now is really to finish successfully the last leg of the around the world solo flight.
So set the scene for us, everyone that's watching at home.
Where are you right now?
And what is your elevation and what is your air speed?
Just so we get a sense of what's going on.
Yes, so I am in the middle of Saudi Arabia, over a place which is just a desert of sand.
It's completely flat.
There are dunes.
I'm flying 8000 feet.
So it's low, because during the night, I fly lower in order to save energy.
And when the sun comes, I start to climb again.
And I'm flying at a speed of 29 knots-
Which is maybe slow for an airplane, but this airplane is very strange.
I mean the first of a kind.
It flies slowly, has a huge wingspan.
It is sensitive to turbulence.
But the way it is built allows it to fly.
And it flies without fuel.
So I spent the night on the battery that were charged yesterday during the day flight.
Now I am going to charge the batteries again, for the next night.
So it's Like a new era in aviation.
Because of those, it's the beginning.
There is no benchmark.
Nobody explained us how to do it.
We had invent something completely new.
So you guys have already set the bench for longest flight.
It was five days in the solar-powered plane, correct?
Yes, exactly, that was the flight of Andre from Nagoya to Hawaii.
And what is great is to see that this airplane can stay several days, several nights.
We have When I crossed the Atlantic, it was three days and three nights.
We had several flights of two days and two nights with Andre.
So you see, it can fly much longer because it has no fuel, because we found another way to do.
But before all the airplanes will be solar, Of course there would be a lot of time.
I think the first step for [UNKNOWN] would be to become electric because electric motors have much better efficiency.
Of course batteries are heavier than fuel.
But I bet that in ten years' time you will have electric airplanes.
Fly with 50 people aboard for [UNKNOWN] flight.
And this will happen in the next 10 years.
So maybe not fully solar but fully electric [UNKNOWN] grid of the airport before taking off which has a [UNKNOWN] of pollution.
Yeah I feel like there is a renaissance in solar powered planes right now, i mean Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg just launched their plane the Aquila plane, in just but they just released a video of it last week, have you gotten a chance to check that out?
What are your remarks regarding that.
Yes of course I saw it
I have to say that the sonar drone of Facebook is beautiful.
It has a fantastic shape.
And an airplane that's this beautiful always flies well.
It reminds me 17 years ago, it was just after my balloon flight around the world, When I thought to speak of an airplane flying around the world without fuel, everybody thought I was completely crazy.
[UNKNOWN] stopped to have that.
Which is good.
That's the role of pioneering, is to open the ways.
And to give the wish to people to try it.
This is what is missing in our world today.
People are stuck with old Devices.
All the sources of energy and they think they will be able to live forever with it, but it's wrong.
It's completely wrong.
The world is going in the wrong direction.
We are destroying the planet.
We're losing the environment.
We're depleting the natural resources.
We're poisoning the lots of.
children were breathing the air that we haven't.
Absolutely we must do differently.
I know, I know how you feel like when I put like gasoline in my car I feel like this is archaic why am I still putting Fossil fuels of my car.
But that's the way life is right now.
But you've been working on this project since 1999, correct?
So you're just hours away from finishing your trip around the world.
How does it feel to be almost done with this major accomplishment?
To be honest, if I think about it, I think I'm too much emotional.
So when I took off yesterday morning in Egypt, I was thinking, I'm doing this flight as a pilot.
Not as the initiator of the project.
I'm doing it as a pilot to bring the plane to Abu Dhabi to fly well, to enjoy the flight also.
To give interviews, to speak about key technologies.
But I try not to remember that it's the last flight.
Otherwise I would have tears in my eyes and my voice will break.
Let's wait for Abu Dhabi to celebrate.
And, you know, there's still the day and night to go.
That's because it's the last flight to leave at night, which makes it very difficult, especially over deserts where you have thermals, where you have turbulences.
I can't even believe it.
So I had to focus on the top.
Yeah, so during this whole journey, which been more than a year of your life just going around the world, not even counting building the plane, but what was the most memorable experience for you so far on this trip?
I think there were two things that were fantastic.
One was crossing the Atlantic.
In the solar powered airplane.
Because I met Charles Lindbergh when I was a child and I talked to him.
And flying over the Atlantic for the first time with a solar powered airplane that was great.
Because Charles Lindbergh flew to Paris to open the way to commercial air transport My goal was to use the [UNKNOWN] to open the way to much more implementation of [UNKNOWN] technologies.
So that's sort of what's really [UNKNOWN].
Another highlight, of course, is when I would speak [UNKNOWN] with Secretary General of the United Nations.
[UNKNOWN] when I was [UNKNOWN] Speaking to the United Nations.
And really demonstrate that all these new technologies they are mature.
They can be used everywhere, not just for airplanes.
But they can be used to replace all the old systems that are polluting.
And if you replace all that, you make profit, you create jobs, you [UNKNOWN] the industry.
So you see, what I go back [UNKNOWN] is that now, there is no need to be only ecological.
You can just be logical.
Using the [UNKNOWN] technologies and this will protect the environment also.
What is next for the solar impulse team?
What are you guys, what is next after you guys accomplish your goal?
What are you guys planning next?
We have a huge experience in our technical team for solar powered airplanes with high payload.
And you know there's a huge development in that direction to replace satellites for observations, for Internet and so on and that We are working on that and [UNKNOWN], my partner, who is leading the technical team, is very keen to develop that part.
I would like to also develop electric airplanes for transport or passengers because I think it is really worth it.
And what we will do of course now is to develop the international committee for [UNKNOWN] [UNKNOWN] for key technology.
It's like a world council [UNKNOWN] of technologies that I announced when I was flying above the Atlantic.
And this is a way to give a common voice and more power.
To the association, organization, that working in technologies when you're building it cause it's organized together as a community and we need to be able to advise the government to have more impact in the industry.
So this is really What we call now beyond Solar Impulse.
Solar Impulse allows us to do that, but now we're going to do it.
I'm really happy to hear everything is going so well.
Thank you so much for your time, Bertrand Piccard, as pilot of the Solar Impulse, he's over Saudi Arabia right now flying.
Live, and this is all happening live.
Is it okay if I call you Captain Picard?
Because I think that's a thing right?
Yes, but you know that Captain Picard in Star Trek was named after the twin brother of my grandfather.
Who did the first stratospheric flight.
Yeah, he made the first stratospheric flight in a balloon in the US The creator of Star Trek took him as inspiration for Captain Picard.
So it's really funny.
Well thank you so much for your time.
And good luck.
I'm very excited for you guys.
It's gonna be really cool to see you guys land.
Thank you very much for your support.
Have a good one.
All right guys that was captain [UNKNOWN] in the solar impulse two and he is taking off, he is flying off in the desert check out all that coverage at CNET.com that we produce a lot of videos about the solar impulse and Facebook plant, in the Akira so check out all of our coverage at CNET.com and we'll check you out next time [SOUND].