Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Up, up and away.....

Dr Bertrand Piccard balloonist, doctor, explorer, pioneer, first person to circumnavigate world in hot air balloon, about to do same thing in solar powered plane..... Brilliant man, inspirational talk. Hope notes below give some flavour of it.

Life is like the atmosphere. Lots of winds. Some good, some bad. Take us by surprise and push us towards the unknown. How much effort do we put into fighting against the unknown? Lots. In a balloon, exactly the opposite. No control. Carried by the wind, towards the unknown. Have to understand that the unknown is our only certainly. Atmosphere made out of different levels of wind. Have to change altitude to find different wind to take you in direction you want to go. Can do same in life.

How do we do it? If balloon wants to go higher, pilot has to drop ballast, things you don't need anymore. This is what we must do in life. Identify our ballast.
Take our real conviction on how things should be done and envision the exact opposite.
Don't be fixed in your ideas. Take a little from many different views. Can apply to politics, religion.
Try other behaviours and strategies, other ways to think etc.
In life we have advisors - friends, colleagues, family. Listen to them. Balloonists have weathermen. In the balloon, told to stay at a certain altitude which would mean slow speed. Piccard ignored weathermen and went higher, found wind speed that would take them faster. But, weathermen had spotted low pressure system to the side of them. Traveling fast would mean they would get in front of it, and be pulled backwards by it. Is it better to go fast in wrong direction or slow in right one.
Need a long term vision but can be scary, leaves time for fears and doubts.

Took off with 3.7 tons of liquid propane. Landed with 40 kgs. Promised himself that next time he flew round world would do it with no fuel at all. He's going round in solar powered plane. Pioneering spirit about throwing away lots of preconceived ideas, and thinking differently. We need to be more independent from fossil fuel energy. If he can do it in plane, can do it with anything.

Have to fly day and night. Plane needs to have 64m wingspan. Size of 747 but weight of a car. Quarter of its weight will be in batteries. Power use same as a small scooter.

Went to airplane and glider builders and was told it was impossible to build such a plane. Then went to a ship constructor. He had no idea it was impossible, so he built it.

Plane is called Solarimpulse, and has made test flights. First night flight had just one goal, to make next sunrise before batteries run out. At sunrise, had 6 hours of power left.
A huge team effort, and demonstration of how to get rid of common assumptions. Identify what all world believes and do it the other way round.

To make a difference to climate change, will need more people who understand they can do same in their daily life as they do in their airplane.

Try and watch some of the videos on the web site, especially the video of the first night flight.

No comments: