The sun is long gone, and the countdown to dawn is ticking away. The crowds of press and crew have dwindled to a minimum at the Payerne airfield.
I am one of a handful of people awake and alert during this event. A photographer once told me the key to a good picture is timing.
“You just need to be there,” he said. That is also true of journalism.
At 1 a.m. I was allowed into the sacred heart of this Solar Impulse project to interview pilot Andre Borschberg.
I and a French journalist were the only two allowed into the control room, and the interviews were broadcast at solarimpulse.com.
Borschberg was in high spirits, though he had complained of back pain. His cockpit is a little smaller than the size of an economy-class seat on a commercial airliner. He is thirsty, and could not drink because his liquids froze when he approached 28,000 feet. Some of his answers were cut off due to a safety on his microphone–after a certain time the mic will shut off to preserve energy. This was installed as a precaution against inadvertantly leaving the mic on, and potentially draining the batteries.
Every drop of energy will be needed to maintain flight through the morning. As of now (2:08 in the morning) things are looking positive to make the goal. This is an historic event, but each member of the crew is treading softly. They know this fragile plane still has a long way to go.