We won't let sun set on Solar Impulse, says Emirati team member
The only Emirati member of the Solar Impulse team returned to the UAE this week, but without the record-breaking solar plane.
Solar Impulse 2 was supposed to return to Abu Dhabi next month having completed its circumnavigation of the globe, but irreversible battery damage to the fuel-free aircraft halted operations.
Hasan Al Redaini, 25, travelled to Oman, India and China with the team and just returned from Hawaii, the last leg of the trip, where the aircraft remains grounded.
“I really hoped that I would return with the Solar Impulse having visited all the planned stops of the journey, including Phoenix, New York and North Africa. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and the effect this journey has had on the world.”
Mr Al Redaini initially joined the team to work in event management, but ended up working in media relations and marketing. He has since written a series of articles for The National, chronicling the team’s journey.
“The marketing department was a major component of the Solar Impulse team. We used to say that the plane did not carry passengers, it carried a message, and this was the work we did. We set up tents and awareness campaigns at all of our stops to share the message of sustainable living and energy efficiency.”
During his work with media monitoring and analysis for the team, Mr Al Redaini was disappointed at some of the, albeit rare, negative criticism people have shown towards the project.
“The overall feedback I’ve witnessed was overwhelmingly positive, but it was sad to see that there were a lot of doubters too,” he said.
“What the plane did without a single drop of fuel, crossing the Pacific, was historic in so many ways and has paved the way for future innovations and possibilities.’
He said there were likely to be problems for the team still to face but that “the road of innovation is usually filled with those”.
The pilots of Solar Impulse 2 are currently trying to raise €20 million (Dh81m) to repair the plane and for the project to continue.
“The Solar impulse is a non-profit project and I have no doubt in my mind that the money will be raised. It happened the first time around and I think it will happen again.”
Mr Al Redaini was the only team member from the Middle East.
“I felt like an ambassador for the UAE, especially during the first leg of the trip when the plane took off from Abu Dhabi. There’s a lot of curiosity around us and our culture that I felt that I bridged the gap explaining our culture to people.”
He said he was very thankful that he was selected for this life-altering opportunity.
“The support I’ve received from Masdar, Mubadala and our diplomatic missions in the UAE was very touching”.
He has been away from the UAE working with the Solar Impulse team for six months and said he feels like a changed person. “I was a part of something so big that has definitely changed who I am. I return to work this Sunday in Mubadala a changed man in ways that I’m discovering every day.”