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Pilots follow their impulse

By Lyu Chang | China Daily | Updated: 2015-02-23 10:11

Pioneers shed light on their preparations for the journey

Bertrand Piccard talks about the duo's preparations for the first round-the-world trip in a solar-powered plane, the Solar Impulse 2.

Q: Even though you will share flying duties, you will only be able to swap roles when you make a pit stop on dry land. There are so many challenges for a pilot flying for such a long time. How will you deal with the physical and mental challenges?

A: When you do something for the first time, there is no benchmark and nobody can give you the answers. We have to do it all ourselves, as a team, and prepare mentally and physically. We will do a 72-hour simulation to break our normal habits. For example, we will need to break up our normal eight hours of sleep at night into 10 periods throughout the day of 20 minutes each. Another thing: you can't focus on the final goal. Instead, you have to focus on the moment until you reach that goal.

Is it true that you can sleep with your eyes open during flight? What are the other techniques that you have developed?

Sleeping with your eyes open while flying the plane is not like deep sleep. It is a way to rest your body. You need to live outside yourselves and turn your awareness inside. At that moment, you can do whatever you want: you can sleep and you can feel and have less pain and deal with emotions.

I've been doing yoga for many years and I've developed a program with a yogi in India for exercises to keep the body in good physical condition and rest the mind at the same time.

During the around-the world flight, you will be restricted to a single-seat cabin. How will you prepare food and answer the call of nature?

We have special food for the flight, which will be dried products that can withstand temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and temperatures below freezing at night. We will prepare a week's supply of food and water and some oxygen tanks. We have a built-in toilet, a step up from the previous model, where the pilots resorted to using bottles for that function.

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