Flying with the mind
The Solar Impulse flight which has been in the news recently after bad weather forced it to turn back is also of great interest because of the fact the the pilot is using self hypnosis and mindfulness techniques because he is unable to sleep properly during the record breaking attempt to fly around the world with solar power alone.
It's a 35000km journey with over 500 hours of flying time. The pilot must spend 5-6 days in the cockpit and during this time he is unable to sleep properly.
It's a really test of human endurance, and using his mind as well as his body is the key to success.
"What is really special, is that it is the first and only airplane in the world which has unlimited endurance. We have an airplane which is fully sustainable in terms of energy, and our challenge now is to make the pilot sustainable as well."
Of course, concentration is so important and being vigilant of the surroundings, weather conditions and everything else that a pilot must check take a great deal of work.
How does it work on board in reality?
It's all about taking a short nap or time out to meditate and use self hypnosis several times a day. Bertrand Piccard explained that it helps him endure the long hours.
"When you get into self-hypnosis, you turn your look from the outside to the inside. You don't focus anymore on what happens outside, you focus only on the inside. I am completely relaxed my body is sleeping, but my mind is alert and can still check instruments, talk to mission control, and fly the plane."
In the event of him needed to be awakened his suit vibrates alerting him and he can then take control of the plane once more.
Bertrand taught himself self-hypnosis before taking part in a balloon race across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1992. He shares piloting duties with his co-founder, Swiss businessman Andre Borschberg.
You can watch the flight for yourself on the Solar Impulse website.
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