Pilots

Two men, both pioneers, innovators and pilots, are the driving force behind Solar Impulse.

  • Bertrand Piccard, a doctor, psychiatrist, explorer and aeronaut, who made the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, is the initiator and chairman.
  • André Borschberg, an engineer and graduate in management science, a fighter pilot and a professional airplane and helicopter pilot, is the co-founder and CEO.

The former’s avant-gardist vision and the latter’s entrepreneurial and managerial experience are an ideal combination.

Bertrand Piccard

Initiator, Chairman and Pilot of Solar Impulse

  • Born in a dynasty of explorers and scientists who conquered the heights and the depths of our planet.
  • Psychiatrist specialised in hypnosis
  • International motivational speaker
  • Initiator of the Breitling Orbiter project and captain of the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, capturing 7 FAI world records for the longest flight of the entire aviation's history for both distance and duration.
  • Pioneer of hang-gliding and microlight flying in Europe; European hang-glider aerobatics champion.

Read more about Bertrand Piccard, connect to his website, Facebook fanpage, Google+ page, Twitter profile.

André Borschberg

CEO, co-founder and pilot of Solar Impulse.

  • Engineer from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)
  • Graduate of the Sloan School (MIT) in management science
  • Entrepreneur specialised in start-up companies
  • Trained as Swiss air force pilot
  • 8 FAI world records for distance, altitude and duration in a solar airplane

Read more about André Borschberg and follow him on Google+Twitter, Facebook.

It's the team's flight just as much as it's mine. Held up for 3 weeks by the weather in Chongqing, we were beginning to despair of ever finding a good slot to reach Nanjing. Andre had to return to Switzerland for treatment of shingles, so I took his place in the cockpit at the last moment. ...

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It's the team's flight just as much as it's mine. Held up for 3 weeks by the weather in Chongqing, we were beginning to despair of ever finding a good slot to reach Nanjing. Andre had to return to Switzerland for treatment of shingles, so I took his place in the cockpit at the last moment.  

What an unexpected gift ! The meanders of the Yangtze, disappearing and reappearing behind each summit; wooded mountains, sculpted by sheer cliffs and deep gorges; thousands of tiny lakes reflecting the setting sun; and here and there enormous cities of several million inhabitants, whose names I've never heard before.  

And just beyond the lights of Nanjing, a triumphant welcome from the team, in proportion with their hopes and their fears of not seeing the aircraft arrive. A moment of happiness that gives me comfort at the moment when an sms arrives giving me news of the death of a person I was particularly fond of.  

You can find this story on carandache.com

Upon arrival in Nanjing, Bertrand Piccard received the Diplomas for his world record-breaking flight between Muscat (oman) to Ahmedabad (India) completing the longest distance ever flown by a solar airplane in aviation history.

On March 10, 2015, after an eleven-hour pit stop ...

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Upon arrival in Nanjing, Bertrand Piccard received the Diplomas for his world record-breaking flight between Muscat (oman) to Ahmedabad (India) completing the longest distance ever flown by a solar airplane in aviation history.

On March 10, 2015, after an eleven-hour pit stop in Muscat (Oman) made by Solar Impulse’s CEO and co-founder André Borschberg, the attempt of achieving the First Round-The-World Solar Flight continued onwards to India. Bertrand Piccard piloted Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) from Muscat to Ahmedabad (India), flying across the Arabian Sea and setting a distance world record for straight distance, pre-declared waypoints record by travelling 1,468 km during Si2’s flight. The FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) reviewed the distance record claim dossier and declared it was ratified. Diplomas were delivered by the FAI Observer Jakob Burkard to pilot Bertrand Piccard after he landed Si2 in Nanjing (China). The record of straight distance, pre-declared waypoints 1,386.5 km was previously held by André Borschberg during the Si1 Across America mission in 2013.
The landing in Ahmedabad occurred at 11:25pm local time (5:55pm GMT) after 13 hours and 20 minutes of flight, reaching an altitude of 8,534 meters with a ground speed of roughly 100 knots.


"More important to us than the world record is the fact that Solar Impulse 2 is the first solar airplane to fly in Asia. It is also an honor of being welcomed by the state of Gujarat, a visionary state which leads India in terms of solar installation”, said Piccard and Borschberg.


ABU DHABI, MARCH 9, 2015

I’d never imagined that setting off to fly round the world would be so poignant. I’ve been dreaming about it for 16 years, ever since landing from my round-the-world balloon flight, and it’s hard for me to believe that the great day ...

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ABU DHABI, MARCH 9, 2015

I’d never imagined that setting off to fly round the world would be so poignant. I’ve been dreaming about it for 16 years, ever since landing from my round-the-world balloon flight, and it’s hard for me to believe that the great day has arrived. It's as if a new phase of my life is suddenly beginning.


We’d had a series of unexpected snags in recent days, including an electrical alarm just a few seconds before takeoff. Then Solar Impulse 2, flown on this first leg by André, disappeared into the mist. Unless it was into the tears that were blurring my eyes.

You can find this story on carandache.com

 

MUSCAT, MARCH 10, 2015

It is emotionally easier to be at the controls than on the ground. I'm finally in "pilot mode" to cross the Arabian Sea. And, as a bonus, to bring the first solar aircraft to Asia and break the world distance record. But already there’s a bit of nostalgia for the extraordinary welcome that the Omanis gave André the day before, dressed in white dishdashas, with colorful turbans and ceremonial daggers at the waist, contrasting with our prototype’s futuristic technology.

You can find this story on carandache.com

 

AHMEDABAD, MARCH 11, 2015

Vast bouquets of flowers, embroidered silk scarves laid one on top of another around my shoulders, the incessant crackling of blinding camera flashes: I am torn away in a split second from the cozy intimacy of my cockpit. There’s no room for doubt - I’ve arrived in India!

You can find this story on carandache.com


AHMEDABAD, MARCH 12, 2015

A mini-tornado shakes Solar Impulse’s tent and knocks the ventilation down onto the electricians’ workshop. Miraculously, Sébastien had left just a few seconds earlier. Danger doesn’t always come from where you expect it.

You can find this story on carandache.com


MANDALAY, MARCH 19, 2015

Seventeen years after my second, failed round-the-world balloon attempt, which ended in Burma, here I am on the approach to Mandalay airport. This time it’s a complete success. André tells me by radio to expect the most enthusiastic welcome ever granted either to Solar Impulse 1 or 2.

Behind me lie the Bay of Bengal and the Meghna Delta, where floodplains intersperse with meanders to create one of the most beautiful sights nature can offer. I flew at over 200 km/h thanks to one of my friendly jet-streams. And before me lies a country that rejoices in discovering that clean technologies and solar energy can be a source of social cohesion, peace and economic development.

It is night. My landing lights aren’t lighting up any of the pagodas. I'll have to wait till tomorrow to wallow again in the special aura of kindness and spirituality that once made such a deep impression on me...

You can find this story on carandache.com


MANDALAY, MARCH 30, 2015

I just love the unexpected gifts life brings.

Originally, I was supposed to take off at dawn from Mandalay and was looking forward enormously to flying over the local temples. The program was disrupted by the need to arrive earlier in Chongqing, and my departure was bought forward to 3:30 am, in inky blackness.

I was hardly airborne when illuminated pagodas swept away my disappointment. The spectacle fast became stunning, infinitely more beautiful than by day. Total darkness was punctuated with dozens of golden spots, each representing a temple glowing under floodlights. I fly north at low altitude up the Irrawaddy River, crossing Mandalay slowly. As slowly as possible…

You can find this story on carandache.com

 

SHANGHAI, APRIL 13, 2015

Solar Impulse is blocked by weather in Chongqing. Delays are accumulating. Our adventure is less easy than it’s seemed in recent weeks. André and I do one interview or talk after another in Shanghai for our partners. There’s no way you can tire of the amazing view of Pudong from our rooms in the Peninsula, where we are privileged to be invited to stay. The pace of growth in this city is frantic. For those who still had any doubt, the center of gravity of the world’s economy has indeed moved to the East.

You can find this story on carandache.com


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