Dr Bertrand Piccard
Dr Bertrand Piccard
Initiator and Chairman
Solar Impulse
Born into a dynasty of explorers and scientists who have conquered the heights and depths of our planet, Bertrand Piccard made the first ever non-stop round-the-world balloon fight. An internationally reputed psychiatrist, aeronaut and lecturer, chairman of the Winds of Hope charitable foundation, and a United Nations goodwill ambassador, he combines science and adventure in order to promote a better quality of life.

To deepen his understanding of the “inner world”, Bertrand Piccard studied medicine, ending with a double specialization in adult and child psychiatry and psychotherapy. His doctoral thesis entitled “La Pédagogie de l'Epreuve" (Ordeal, a Learning Experience) was awarded a prize by the Lausanne Faculty of Medicine in 1996. Attracted by the possibilities of therapies under hypnosis, he trained in these techniques in Europe and the United States. He rapidly became an expert in hypnotherapy, teaching and supervising at the Swiss Medical Hypnosis Society.

Fascinated by the study of human behaviour in extreme situations and a passionate explorer since his childhood, he was one of the pioneers of hang gliding and microlight flying in the 1970s, becoming European hang-glider acrobatics champion in 1985.

As a balloon pilot, he applied his hypnosis techniques during the first transatlantic balloon race, that he won with Belgian Wim Verstraeten. He then initiated the “Breitling Orbiter” non-stop round-the-world balloon flight project, meeting the challenge himself in March 1999, when with Englishman Brian Jones he captained the longest flight in terms of duration and distance in the history of aviation. This success projected him onto the front of the stage as a “savanturier” or scientist-adventurer.

Following this success, Bertrand Piccard was decorated with the Légion d’Honneur, the Olympic Order and the highest distinctions of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the National Geographic Society and the Explorers Club. An honorary professor and an honorary doctor in science and letters, he also received the Grand Prix of the l’Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques.

But his concerns extend also to the least fortunate, which is why he started with Brian Jones the humanitarian Winds of Hope Foundation, which he chairs. In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), he has committed Winds of Hope in the fight against Noma through direct activities in the field, sensitizing public opinion and bringing together organizations which are fighting this terrible infectious disease. The United Nations has appointed him a goodwill ambassador of its Population Fund (UNFPA).

Developing his humanist perception of adventure, Bertrand Piccard has become a highly sought-after speaker with the general public and the business world. Since 1992 he has made several hundred public and private appearances on every continent. Taking his balloon flights as a metaphor of life, he examines motivation and the spirit of adventure, the psychology of communication and of team-working, and the management of stress and the unknown.

Following the family tradition that combines scientific exploration, protection of the environment and the search for a better quality of life, Bertrand Piccard came up with the idea of flying round the world in a solar aircraft, without fuel or polluting emissions, to promote renewable energies and encourage energy savings. In 2003 he teamed up with André Borschberg to officially launch the Solar Impulse project and start building a revolutionary aircraft. “The adventure in the 21st century consists in using human creativity and the pioneering spirit to develop the quality of life to which present and future generations are entitled.”

A pioneer, explorer and an innovator moving outside the customary certainties and stereotypes, Bertrand Piccard is first and foremost a visionary and a communicator. As chairman of Solar Impulse, he has developed the project's avant-guard philosophy and traced its symbolic reach and the policy that has convinced the financial partners of this challenge. He shares control of this enterprise with André Borschberg, just as he will share with him, alternately, the controls of the solar aircraft.

Aged 52, Bertrand Piccard is married with Michèle and father of three children. He lives near to Lausanne when he still finds time to write and give us his impressions, his philosophy and his conception of the future.

• Born 1 March 1958 in Lausanne (Switzerland), married and father of three children
• Medical doctor, specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy for adults and children
• Lecturer and supervisor for the Swiss Medical Hypnosis Society
• Honorary Professor and Honorary Doctor of Science and Letters
• European pioneer of hang-gliding and microlight flying; European hng-glider aerobatics champion
• Winner of the first transatlantic balloon race (Chrysler Challenge, 1992)
• Initiator of the Breitling Orbiter project and captain of the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight: 45 633 km in 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes (capturing a total of 7 world records)
• President of the Winds of Hope Foundation which is fighting against noma.
• United Nations Goodwill Ambassador (UNFPA)
• Official decorations: Légion d’Honneur (Chevalier); The Olympic Order; Gold Medal of Youth and Sport; Médaille de l’Aéronautique. Awarded the highest distinctions of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the National Geographic Society, the Explorers Club and numerous other aeronautical, scientific and sporting associations
• Lecturer (several hundred public and private lectures since 1992)
• Initiator and chairman of the “Solar Impulse" project to fly round the world in a solar aircraft in order to promote the use of renewable energies
• Author of: “A Trace in the Sky” (Editions Favre, 2005)
“Around the World in 20 Days” (Wiley, New York, 1999, a best seller)