Bertrand Piccard

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Bertrand Piccard

Immediate Family:

Son of Jacques Piccard and Marie-Claude Piccard

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Immediate Family

About Bertrand Piccard

Bertrand Piccard (born 1 March 1958) is a Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist.

Born in Lausanne, Vaud canton, Bertrand Piccard, along with Brian Jones, was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe. His grandfather Auguste Piccard was a balloonist and his father, Jacques Piccard an undersea explorer.

Early life

Growing up in a ballooning and undersea-exploring family, Bertrand was always fascinated with flight. As a child, he was taken to the launch of several space flights from Cape Canaveral. From an early age Bertrand was also 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).

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.

On 1 March 1999 Piccard and Brian Jones set off in the balloon Breitling Orbiter 3, a bright red, carbon-composite egg measuring 16 feet long and 7 feet in diameter, from Château d'Oex in Switzerland on the first non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the globe. 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 landed in Egypt after a 45,755 km (28,431 mi) flight lasting 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes. 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 50 specialists from six countries, assisted by about 100 outside advisers.

The project is financed by a number of private companies and individuals in Europe. The first company to officially support the project was Semper, after Eric Freymond was convinced of the future success of the highly media-friendly Bertrand Picard. Owing to the 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 night 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 passengers. 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 New York City's JFK Airport, with several stops along the way, including Washington DC.

Marriage and Children

Bertrand Piccard is married and the father of three children.


He is known for his flamboyant declarations, using expressions such as "The Invisible Hand" (la Main Invisible):

"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."


“The Greatest Adventure” (Headline, London) 1999 [ISBN 0-7472-7128-3] or “Around the world in 20 Days” (same content published by Wiley, New York) 1999 [ISBN 0-471-37820-8]

Awards and honours

Honorary Professor and Honorary Doctor of Science and Letters

Gold Medal of Youth and Sport

Harmon Trophy

FAI Gold Air Medal

Winner of the first trans-Atlantic balloon race (1992 Chrysler Challenge)

Légion d'Honneur (Chevalier)

Officer of the Order of the Alawites

Médaille de l'aéronautique

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Bertrand Piccard's Timeline

March 1, 1958