Exploration is a state of mind about life: it’s about leaving our safe anchorage, and enriching ourselves with what the unknown can teach us.
Hang-glider aerobatics, for the young man in search of extreme achievements. Around the world non-stop in a balloon - a dream of achieving the impossible, drawing on his family heritage. A second trip around-the-world, this time in a zero-fuel solar airplane with unlimited endurance, an all-out campaign to bring the planet into the era of clean technologies. This is the story of a man in love with exploration who wants life to be based on the pioneering spirit, on questioning our certainties and surpassing ourselves. All this to tackle today’s greatest challenge: improving the quality of life for everyone. However could it be otherwise?
Most children grow up listening to their parents tell them fairy tales. For Bertrand, the stories were all about exploration - the conquest of the Poles, of Everest, of space, and the ocean depths. His childhood heroes were all people he had actually met: Edmund Hillary, Neil Armstrong, Charles Lindbergh, Thor Heyerdahl, Jacques Mayol, Alain Bombard, Wernher Von Braun, Alan Sheppard, John Glenn... And finding himself present at Cape Kennedy for six of the Apollo launches, center-stage in a great adventure, molded his aspirations decisively. Bertrand had caught the exploration virus, and would never again be content with routine or dogma. Nothing would seem impossible to him any longer. All that would count for him were the three values that characterized his education: curiosity in the face of the unknown, persevering to succeed, and respect for what lay around him.
Controlling risk in hang-gliding taught Bertrand how to improve his performance, awareness of the present moment and self-confidence, and so become an explorer of Life itself. Behind the crazy stunt flyer and his aerial ballet loomed the urge to understand the limits of human behavior…
After his triumphant crossing of the Atlantic in a balloon, Bertrand decided to embark on a challenge of incomparable magnitude: the first non-stop around-the-world balloon flight. Considered unrealizable by some, the last great adventure of the 20th century by others. After two failures, he made this dream of Jules Verne come true, with a 20-day flight over 45,000 km searching out the best trajectory between storms and jet streams.
More than a revolutionary aircraft, a vision of the future, made possible through innovation and the pioneering spirit. In true Piccard family tradition, combining scientific exploration with environmental conservation, this 43,000 km journey without fuel demonstrated the immense potential benefits of clean technologies for solving the challenges currently facing our planet. Not just an historic feat, but an energy exploit too.