I met Fred To and David Williams in 1981. The occasion, as competitors to fly a solar-powered airplane across the English Channel. Fred and David designed, built, and flew their airplane Solar One long before our airplane Solar Challenger was a few lines on a drafting board.
Upon our arrival in England I saw their creativity and artistry with Solar One. I was impressed by their work but the lasting memory that I have carried with me over the years was, and is, the dedication, conviction, and character of these two men. Sadly, David has passed but last year I had the opportunity to reunite with Fred. Years ago, we met as competitors but have become life-long friends.
I am excited for Fred and the organising team in this current project, human-powered flight across the English Channel. Given Fred’s commitment to detail and dogged determination I have little doubt for the successful completion of this endeavour. I don’t know a man that I admire or respect more than Fred, and I am very thankful for our friendship.
Stephen Ptacek-pilot of Solar Challenger designed by Paul MacCready.
Solar Challenger’s historical flight across the English Channel: Cormeilles en vexin to RAF Manston, Kent U.K. July, 1981