PIONEER AND SERIAL-EXPLORER
Inspired by his childhood where he rubbed shoulders with most of the astronauts of the American moon program, Bertrand also developed an insatiable curiosity for pushing limits and living the life of a pioneer. In the inner world, as a medical doctor in psychiatry and hypnosis, as well as in the outer world, as a "serial-explorer". Bertrand pioneered the early development of hang-gliding and ultra-light flying in Europe, won the Transatlantic Balloon Race and achieved the first-ever, nonstop round-the-world balloon flight, completing the longest unrefueled flight in the history of aviation for both distance and duration. During the 20 days of this circumnavigation, together with Englishman Brian Jones, Bertrand feared to fall short of gas and promised himself to make another round-the-world flight, this time without any fuel. Solar Impulse was born from this commitment and Bertrand’s belief that “if everyone tells you something is possible, it means you are not dreaming big enough”.
His passion for exploration was brought to new levels as a medical doctor and psychiatrist, when he searched for alternative therapeutic solutions in hypnosis, Oriental approaches and Taoism. This practice came full circle, as Bertrand used hypnosis to increase his level of vigilance and manage fatigue when he was for days at the controls of the Solar Impulse airplane and the Breitling Orbiter balloon.
Bertrand's search for exploration is the continuation of a family legacy, passed down through three generations of inventors who dedicated their lives to scientific adventure and protection of the environment. First, there was Auguste Piccard who opened the way for modern aviation with the first-ever stratospheric flight in the pressurized capsule that he invented. Later, it was Jacques Piccard who pioneered scientific ecology when he discovered traces of life during his historic dive to the deepest point of the ocean, the Mariana Trench. Now that the world has been conquered from the bottom of the sea to the heights of space, adventure must go on, but for Bertrand the goal should be to conquer a better quality of life on Earth.
In his experience, exploration is a state of mind that everybody should develop to manage the unpredictability of life. Through numerous speeches and lectures given worldwide, Bertrand explains how to change altitude in the winds of life by dropping the ballast of our certitudes in order to find better directions. "Performance and success come from leaving our comfort zone and using doubts and question marks to stimulate our creativity".