Bertrand Piccard

Bertrand Piccard
Portrait of Bertrand Piccard
Born (1958-03-01) 1 March 1958
Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Alma mater University of Lausanne
Occupation Psychiatrist and aviator
Organization Solar Impulse
Known for Ballooning, solar flight
Relatives Auguste Piccard (grandfather)

Bertrand Piccard (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 is the initiator, chairman, and co-pilot of the first successful round-the-world solar flight with André Borschberg.

Piccard was born in Lausanne (Switzerland), into a family of explorers. His grandfather Auguste Piccard was a balloonist and his father, Jacques Piccard was an undersea explorer.


Early life

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.[1]

Bertrand Piccard in 1982.

Breitling Orbiter

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.[2] 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.[2] In recognition of this accomplishment, he received awards including the Harmon Trophy, the FAI Gold Air Medal and the Charles Green Salver.

Solar Impulse

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.[3]

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 Piccard.[4] Owing to international support for the project, the Solar Impulse is a European craft, not a Swiss one, despite scientific and medical support from the EPFL and Hirslanden Clinique Cecil.

In 2010, the Solar Impulse 1 (Si1) 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.[5] The voyage consists of multiple flights started on March 9 and was 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. Bertrand Piccard piloted ninth leg of the round-the-world trip and landed the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) in Moffett Field in California on 24 April 2016 after three days of flying from Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii.

André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard completed their circumnavigation of the globe with the solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse on 26 July 2016.[6] On the same day, they announced the creation of the International Committee of Clean Technologies.[6]

Personal information

Bertrand Piccard is married, and is the father of 3 children.


In 2016, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg completed the first solar-powered aircraft circumnavigation of the world in Solar Impulse 2.

Piccard is known for his declarations, using expressions such as

The Piccard family

Awards and honours


Two books with different titles: The Greatest Adventure on the UK edition; Around the World in 20 Days on the US 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 US publisher.

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Bertrand Piccard Biography" (PDF). Solar Impulse.
  2. 1 2 Linda Shiner (17 September 2009). "First Around the World". Air&Space Magazine.
  3. "Major Steps". Solar Impulse. 31 December 2011.
  4. "Semper Gestion, First partner of Solar Impulse project". Nerditorial. 2 September 2013.
  5. First Round-The-World Solar Flight (
  6. 1 2 (French) Olivier Dessibourg, "Vers un comité mondial pour les énergies « vertes »", Le temps, Wednesday 27 July 2016, page 13. Box part of the large article of Fabien Goubet entitled "Un tour du monde, zéro carburant : Solar Impulse réécrit l'histoire de l'aviation", Le temps, Wednesday 27 July 2016, pages 12-13
  7. Piccard, Bertrand. "My Solar-Powered Adventure". TED. Retrieved 7 August 2016.

External links

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