Adventurer, initiator, chairman, and pilot of Solar Impulse
Sunday, November 2 | 17:30 – 18:30
Born into an illustrious Swiss dynasty of explorers and scientists – a dynasty whose members have both plumbed the depths of the oceans and soared to the edges of space – Bertrand Piccard seems predestined to perpetuate one of the greatest family adventures of the 20th century. Psychiatrist, aeronaut, and lecturer, chairman of the Winds of Hope humanitarian foundation and goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, he is passionate about today’s great human challenges.
A pioneer of ultralight flying in the 1970s, an airplane and glider pilot, Bertrand Piccard completed the first ever non-stop balloon flight circumnavigation of the globe in 1999. In a flight that was the longest in terms of duration and distance in the history of aviation, Piccard travelled 45,755 km in just under 20 days. Among other awards, he received the Harmon Trophy for an outstanding feat of aeronautics in recognition of this accomplishment.
In November 2003, Bertrand Piccard announced a project, in cooperation with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, for a solar-powered, long-range aircraft named Solar Impulse. After developing the project’s philosophy, outlining its symbolic and political reach, and convincing financial backers, construction of the plane began in 2007, with short test flights being conducted in 2008. By 2009, Bertrand Piccard had assembled a comulti-disciplinary team of 50 specialists from six countries, assisted by about 100 outside advisers, to work on Solar Impulse. In 2012, the aircraft made its first intercontinental flight from Morocco to Switzerland.
Now, Bertrand Piccard, together with his business partner André Borschberg, are attempting the grandest challenge of all: to attempt the first round-the-world solar-powered flight in 2015. Initiator, chairman, and pilot of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard seeks to link science with adventure, technological innovation, entrepreneurial expertise, and passion, in a profound demonstration of humanity’s pioneering spirit, long-term vision, and innate desire to explore new horizons.