Bertrand Piccard

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Bertrand Piccard

Bertrand Picard (born 1 March 1958) is a Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist. Along with Brian Jones, he was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe.

He was born in Lausanne, Vaud, a Swiss canton, into a family of explorers. His grandfather Auguste Piccard was a balloonist and his father, Jacques Piccard was an undersea explorer. He currently is trying to perform the first round-the-world solar flight, where he is the initiator, chairman, and pilot.


Early life[edit]

Growing up in a ballooning and undersea-exploration family, Bertrand always was fascinated with flight. As a child, he was taken to the launch of several space flights from Cape Canaveral. From an early age Bertrand also was fascinated by the study of human behaviour in extreme situations. He received a degree from the University of Lausanne in psychiatry. He has since become a lecturer and supervisor at the Swiss Medical Society for Hypnosis (SMSH).[1]

Early on, he also obtained licenses to fly balloons, airplanes, gliders, and motorized gliders. In Europe, he was one of the pioneers of hang gliding and microlight flying during the 1970s. He became the European hang-glider aerobatics champion in 1985.[2]

Bertrand Piccard in 1982


On 1 March 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones set off in the balloon Breitling Orbiter 3, a bright red, carbon-composite, egg-shaped craft measuring sixteen feet long and seven feet in diameter, from Château d'Oex in Switzerland on the first successful non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the globe—the first circumnavigation requiring no fuel for forward motion.[3] Piccard and Jones, in close cooperation with a team of meteorologists on the ground, caught rides in a series of jet streams that carried them 25,361 miles to land in Egypt after a 45,755 km (28,431 mi) flight lasting 19 days, 21 hours, and 47 minutes.[4] In recognition of this accomplishment, he received awards including the Harmon Trophy, the FAI Gold Air Medal and the Charles Green Salver.

In November 2003, he announced a project, in cooperation with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), for a solar-powered, long-range aircraft named Solar Impulse. Piccard began construction in 2007, and conducted short test flights in 2008 with André Borschberg. By 2009, he had assembled a multi-disciplinary team of fifty specialists from six countries, assisted by approximately one hundred outside advisers.[5]

The project is financed by a number of private companies and individuals in Europe. The first company to support the project officially was Semper, after Eric Freymond was convinced of the future success of the highly media-friendly Bertrand Picard.[6] Owing to international support for the project, the Solar Impulse is a European craft, not a Swiss one, despite scientific support from the EPFL.

In 2010, the Solar Impulse made its first nighttime flight. In 2011, it landed at Bourget Field in Paris. In 2012, it made its first intercontinental flight from Morocco to Switzerland. Originally conceived as a one-seater, the design of Solar Impulse was altered to allow two. The first intercontinental flight was made by Piccard and Borschberg together. In 2013, he and Borschberg traversed the United States from Mountain View, California to JFK Airport in New York City. There were several stops along the way, including Washington, D.C.

In 2015, the objective is to accomplish the first round-the-world solar flight in history.[7] The voyage consists of multiple flights started on March 9 and scheduled to conclude roughly five months later. In order to switch pilots, stopovers are scheduled at locations in India, Myanmar, China, United States, and southern Europe or northern Africa.

Personal information[edit]

Bertrand Piccard is married, and is the father of three children.


The Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse – her team plans to circumnavigate the globe in 2015 in the aircraft

Piccard is known for his declarations, using expressions such as

  • "The Invisible Hand" (la Main Invisible):[clarification needed]
  • "I went in search of new ideas blowing in the wind, to try and live better on Earth in my roles as doctor and human being."
  • "Consciousness is perceiving one's soul."
  • "Welcome to those who believe in the power of dreams and who would like to join me in my exploration of life."
  • "People will tell you it's impossible, and it's exactly why we try to do it."[8]

The Piccard family[edit]


Two books with different titles: "The Greatest Adventure" on the UK edition; "Around the World in 20 Days" on the U.S. issue. Different front-cover designs show a hot-air balloon to the backdrop of snowy mountains.
These identical books by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones bear different covers depending on the publisher: the left-hand book by a UK publisher, the right-hand book by a U.S. publisher

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Honorary Professor and Honorary Doctor of Science and Letters[9]
  • Gold Medal of Youth and Sport[10]
  • Harmon Trophy
  • Hubbard Medal (1999)
  • Golden Plate Award, Academy of Achievement (1999)
  • FAI Gold Air Medal[11]
  • Winner of the first trans-Atlantic balloon race (1992 Chrysler Challenge)[12]
  • Légion d'Honneur (Chevalier)[13]
  • Officer of the Order of the Alawites[14]
  • Médaille de l'aéronautique[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  2. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  3. ^ Linda Shiner (17 September 2009). "First Around the World". Air&Space Magazine. 
  4. ^ Linda Shiner (17 September 2009). "First Around the World". Air&Space Magazine. 
  5. ^ "Major Steps". Solar Impulse. 31 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Semper Gestion, First partner of Solar Impulse project". Nerditorial. 2 September 2013. 
  7. ^ First Round-The-World Solar Flight (
  8. ^ Piccard, Bertrand. "My Solar-Powered Adventure". TED. Retrieved July 2009. 
  9. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  10. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  11. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  12. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  13. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  14. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 
  15. ^ "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse. 

External links[edit]