The Lounge - Pierre Van Der Stichele

Published: Monday, September 19, 2016

Cargo Business Development Director at

Chapman Freeborn Airchartering Ltd.

No doubt Solar Impulse2 made a huge impact in modern aviation history when it successfully flew around-the-world using just solar energy to cover a distance of 43,041-km over the course of its 17-leg journey.

With the logistics support of Chapman Freeborn and Volga-Dnepr Airlines to transport spare parts, a mobile hangar and the technical team to support the record-breaking round-the-world trip, Si2 managed to accomplish its mission of circumnavigating the globe without using a single drop of fuel.

Air Cargo Update caught up with Pierre Van Der Stichele, the Cargo Business Development Director at Chapman Freeborn Airchartering Ltd., who disclosed that the enormity of the challenge convinced him to join the project.

“I think it was the sheer challenge and dedication it required that convinced me I wanted to be part of it, to work with like-minded teams to overcome such a unique task,” said Van Der Stichele who took the first flight out of the country to see the client and discuss the requirements.

Si2 demands were so unusual but Chapman Freeborn managed to cope up with it.

“The complexity and number of logistical requirements behind the project was colossal. For example, to provide chartered aircraft capacity on 17 sectors, to transport the support team and technical cargo in-line with the regularly changing dates of the Si2 flights,” Van Der Stichele recalled.

And so when Si2 finally landed in Abu Dhabi on July 23, 2016 after completing its journey, it was a huge success not only for the pilots but for the many people behind them.

“When the Solar Impulse 2 completed the round the world mission, it was a huge achievement to all involved, and exemplary of the hard work and dedication it took to get there,” said Van Der Stichele who enjoys flying when he’s not busy.

The business executive with a penchant for flying said Si2’s success will definitely have a huge impact in the commercial aviation industry having pushed the boundaries and used cutting-edge technology “to create and build super light aircraft fuselage made from a number of different composites.”

“I hope to live long enough to witness a direct contribution the project has on the commercial passenger aircraft industry,” he said.

Read on the rest of our interview with Van Der Stichele.

A brief background about yourself?

I got the taste for travel at a very early age. I left my country at the age of 6 to travel with my parents’ as they both worked for relief agencies as expats we travelled a lot when I was a younger, and have lived in some amazing places including the Far East, Africa, and USA. Now 22 years on, I have gone full-circle and find myself back where it all started in Europe.

How did you end up in the air cargo industry?

I wanted to pursue a job in aviation but to still have a connection or be somewhat linked to humanitarian missions. I went off to study a BSc in Aviation Management at the Florida Institute of Technology to pursue my dream career, I landed my first real aviation job arranging relief charters at Southern Air Transport.

What’s the most rewarding part in being in the industry?

Working within the charter and aviation industry is rewarding in itself, as a charter broker, we follow a requirement from A to Z! But in this job in particular, the relationship side with the client is what I find most rewarding.

Creating that relationship with the client, taking on new and exciting challenges, and being able to execute the task (the charter flight) with efficiency and professionalism. And at the end of it all to see the smile on the face of the client, and to know we have done a great job.

How do you spend your spare time?

My first priority is my family, and in my spare time I enjoy flying gliders in and around the UK.

What is your dream vacation like?

Strangely, my ultimate goal is to find a completely remote location, where no planes exist or flyover! I haven’t found this place yet…

Movies or books?


Dining out or dining in?

A mix of both!