Dr Bertrand Piccard (Switzerland)

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Sustainable Aviation Pioneer

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Synopsis

Bertrand made history when he circumnavigated the Earth in the Breitling Orbiter balloon. He continued his pioneering work with Solar Impulse, successfully completing the first ever entirely solar-powered round-the-world flight by aeroplane: “If we can fly day and night without fuel, everybody could use these same technologies on the ground to halve energy consumption.” As a trained psychiatrist Bertrand talks about changing behaviours and overcoming neighsayers in pursuit of a cleaner, sustainable future.

Biography

Dr Bertrand Piccard made history when he and his co-pilot circumnavigated the Earth in the Breitling Orbiter balloon. Bertrand then went on to break a number of records co-piloting (as well as chairing the project) an entirely solar-powered plane around the planet. He combines his passion for adventure with his mission to promote sustainability and his background in psychology to help understand how to change behaviours.

Hailing from a family of noted scientific adventurers, Bertrand followed his grandfather Auguste (who invented the pressurised cockpit and the stratospheric balloon), and father Jacques (who executed the world’s deepest dive). Bertrand emulated his grandfather by taking to the skies, becoming the first person to cross the Swiss-Italian Alps in a micro-light. He also followed the family’s scientific tradition, becoming a doctor and then a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy.

After a working as senior consultant, Bertrand undertook the Chrysler Challenge, the first transatlantic balloon race. He followed that with an attempt to travel around the world, non-stop by balloon. Bertrand and his team failed twice before the Breitling Orbiter triumphed, travelling over 28,000 miles in just under 20 days with no refuelling. He then conceived the Solar Impulse project. Bertrand and his co-pilot and sponsor André Borschberg would fly around the world in an entirely solar-powered plane. After years of design and testing the pair, and a series of pilots based around the world, finally took off and over the course of a year circumnavigated the globe without any fuel.

As well as recounting incredible and inspiring stories of never giving up, even when the odds seem impossible, Bertrand’s work in sustainable aviation and innovation has seen him become a leading advocate for change. He draws together personal experience of times when everyone said a project was impossible with his understanding of human behaviour, and challenges everyone to tackle climate change. Underlining the importance of protecting the planet, he explains why sustainability is both the future of humanity and the future of business.

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