A landmark in the world of powered flight was reached on 8 July 2010, at an airfield in Switzerland. A plane landed after having flown all night, powered only by the energy collected in its solar cells the day before. Why is this so important? Because it means that continuous flight, day and night, is possible even for an aircraft powered only by solar cells. The objective is to fly around the world non-stop, using only sunlight for power. The plane is named Solar Impulse, and the project is backed by watchmaking company Omega.
Pilot Andre Borschberg was faced with some unusual problems. He flew alone, and had a special jacket to help keep him awake. Its sleeves start vibrating if the aircraft tilts beyond five degrees. Borschberg had oxygen but no heating, and the temperature at 8,000 metres height reaches -28°C even during the day. He ate high-energy bars, sandwiches, French rice pudding, and drank some coffee.
Omega have released a watch created to celebrate the Solar Impulse project. The Speedmaster GMT Solar Impulse watch, like the plane, has an innovative power plant, the Omega Calibre 3603 movement, with a co-axial escapement and free sprung balance that ensure accuracy and reliability.