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Solar-Plane Pilot Flies While Hypnotized

Bertrand Piccard says it helps him endure the long hours
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2015 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – One of the guys circumnavigating the globe in a cramped solar-powered plane has a unique piloting plan: Take a nap, hypnotize himself, repeat, LiveScience reports. Swiss psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard says it helps him endure the long hours, including the plane's five-day flight from China to Hawaii that began today. "When you get into self-hypnosis, you turn your look from the outside to the inside," says Piccard. "You don't focus anymore on what happens outside, you focus only on the inside." In this state, he says, he's "completely relaxed—the body is sleeping, but the mind is alert and can still check instruments, talk to mission control, and fly the plane." And if there's an emergency on the zero-fuel aircraft, his suit's sleeves will vibrate to let him know.

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Piccard says he taught himself self-hypnosis before taking part in a balloon race across the Atlantic Ocean in 1992. By his account, he managed to keep awake for 86 hours in a simulator while sleeping or hypnotizing himself for 20-minute stretches. Similarly, Piccard plans to take 10 to 12 daily naps of 20 minutes each on the solar plane, called Solar Impulse 2; while awake, he mixes mindfulness techniques with self-hypnosis. He shares piloting duties with his Solar Impulse co-founder, Swiss businessman Andre Borschberg, who stays alert his own way—with yoga techniques like meditation and healthy postures. Want to follow their progress? EcoWatch reports that you can monitor their real-time activities on their website. (Read about the head of a solar-panel company who lost $15 billion in 30 minutes.)

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