ABU DHABI // It was a day of mixed emotions when the Solar Impulse team arrived in Abu Dhabi.
Having departed the same city more than a year ago with the aim of achieving the world’s first round-the-world solar flight, the return of this extraordinary aircraft marks the end of a 40,000-kilometre circumnavigation.
Being part of a 160-strong flight team that turned science fiction into reality, returning to Abu Dhabi also brought the curtain down on a time of personal growth.
It’s humbling to think that of the seven billion people in the world, I would have the opportunity to be part of history. It is a great honour to have represented this country among a team of international experts who broke new ground in the fields of aviation and renewable energy.
Travelling with team and working in a fast-paced environment provided me with once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities that are invaluable to my development. There have been tough decisions to make along the way, and being required to respond and adapt to unexpected situations as they played out provided its own roller coaster of emotions.
This was the case in Japan when bad weather forced an emergency landing. The stall in Japan challenged us all, ensuring we were always on our toes and working together to identify solutions to ensure the safety of the pilots, crew and plane.
At a time when people around the world feel increasingly divided by race, religion and politics, this was an example of how our pursuit of sustainable energy sources bridged cultural gaps. As a result, I’ve learnt more about renewable energy, aviation and marketing, but also a lot more about people.
Coming from the UAE, I have always thought I was more tolerant of different customs and cultures. However, as I travelled from the Middle East to Asia, crossed the United States, passed over Europe, into Egypt and back to Abu Dhabi, my eyes were opened to the ways in which different nationalities complement, appreciate and tolerate one another.
Interspersed between these intriguing and often intense examples of personal and professional development were plenty of fun times, and I am fortunate to have developed friendships and made memories that I will cherish for a long time.
It is also comforting to know that after a long period of travel, the return of Solar Impulse to Abu Dhabi represents the success of our initial mission, which was to assess the viability of clean and renewable energy in the future of aviation.
As we look to this exciting chapter of modern air transportation as a source of inspiration and human ingenuity, it will be important to remember that Solar Impulse is a means, not an end.
The Solar Impulse project is a story about optimism and how imagination can help solve some our greatest challenges. And while the mission is over, the journey towards a sustainable future – for Solar Impulse, Abu Dhabi and Masdar – is just beginning.
Hasan Al Redaini, 25, works for group communications at Mubadala and is travelling with the Solar Impulse 2 team. Follow him on Twitter at @hasanrtw.
Source: uae news