Bertrand Piccard, the visionary, Swiss balloonist and psychiatrist who co-developed Solar Impulse, the first aircraft capable of flying without fuel, was also the first to circumnavigate the earth in a solar-powered aircraft. Solar Impulse 1 and 2 were the creation of Piccard and his partner, Andre Borschberg, who co-piloted the extraordinary flight. Preceding this flight with another fist. Piccard co-piloted Breitling Orbiter 3, the first balloon to circle the world non-stop. Piccard’s passion for exploration is no surprise as he grew up under the influence of his grandfather and father, Auguste and Jacques Piccard. Auguste was the first scientist to successfully navigate the stratosphere in a pressurized cabin under a balloon, completely revolutionizing flight; his father Jacques explored subterranean depths in his pressurized bathyscaphe.
The Solar Impulse 1 is a single-seated monoplane, which is capable of taking off under its own power due to its photovoltaic cells. It was designed to remain airborne for up to 36 hours. The second, Solar Impulse 2, had added solar cells and more powerful motors to begin its odyssey around the world March 2015. After a 26,000 mile, multi-stage journey including an unfortunate and lengthy delay repairing thermal damage to the batteries, they arrived at their departure July 26, 2016.
Piccard challenges us to explore new ways of thinking. Protection of the environment from climate change was a strong motivator for his work in developing Solar Impulse as it carried the message that energy efficiency and renewable energy can achieve amazing goals. He conceived the Solar Impulse project with his wife Michele to raise public awareness and to encourage political actions in favor of clean technologies. As a result of his zero-emission airplane, he is sought after to share his vision at major international conferences. His voice is heard at the United Nations, European Institutions, World Climate summits, the World Economic Forum, TED, and many national governmental bodies.
Besides a renowned public speaker, Piccard is the author of many popular books. His numerous awards and honors include the Legion d’Honneur, Honorary Professor and Honorary Doctor of Science and Letters, Medaille de l’aeronautique, the Living Legends of Aviation Technology Award, and many others. Piccard powerfully invites his audiences and followers to accompany him on his life mission in one of his famous quotes: “Welcome to those who believe in the power of dreams and who would like to join me in my exploration of life.”
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