Around the world without a single drop of fuel. That’s the ambitious goal the Swiss duo Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg have set themselves. The adventure is intended to show the potential of solar energy and they’ve taken an impressive approach. The aircraft “Solar Impulse 2” is as large as a Boeing 747 with more than 17,000 solar cells and weighs as much as a Volkswagen Passat.
After starting in Abu Dhabi in March of last year the two Swiss pilots have reached India, China, Japan and Hawaii, crossing the Pacific Ocean to California. After a brief stop in the Big Apple the solar plane has just crossed the Atlantic in a 70-hour trip, the first ever transatlantic solar-powered flight. Sounds exhausting - and it is. But the quest has moved Piccard and Borschberg within reach of some prestigious predecessors.
Before the Swiss pair’s latest feat, many other adventurers had this crazy idea to traverse the globe. Circumnavigating the world in these unconventional ways has a storied history.
Andrew Siess, long distance walking
His fitness tracker would have been proud of him. Andrew Siess’ world tour lasted a total of 1020 days. The American was on the go for nearly three years on his trip around the planet, crossing 24 countries, and covering nearly 24,000 miles. His other aim was to not fly (if possible), and would try to make the journey as inexpensive as he could. And Siess succeeded: The entire adventure cost him less than $4,000. What’s more, he saw the inside of an airplane only once, when, with nothing booked, a fellow backpacker allowed him to travel on her ticket.
Siess had already amassed previous experience with extreme travel. At just 19, he went from the northeastern United States to the tip of South America by bicycle. Two years later he conquered the Mississippi, the longest river in North America, in a canoe. And the following year, an Atlantic crossing by sailboat was cut short by a collision with a whale forcing Siess and the crew to be rescued.
Felix Starck, pedal power
There have been quite a few explorers who’ve circumnavigated the globe by bicycle. Very few of them are likely to have created such an impressive documentary about their adventurous trip as Felix Starck. In 2013, the German from the village of Herxheim set off around the world with his bike, a camera, about 120 lbs. of luggage and next to no training.
In total he travelled almost 12,000 miles visiting 22 countries. Maybe the only things as impressive as his sense for the beauty of traveling were his calf muscles.
Áron Meder, global sailor
Hungarian Áron Meder set out to cover the world on water in his 20-foot-long sailboat “Carina.” Over a total of three years, five months, and 25 days, the thrill seeker’s sailing trip took him on a gigantic 34,000 miles around the globe. Whether it was engine failure, life-threatening storms or other menacing obstacles - nothing could stop Meder.