Business / Industries

Adventure is in designer's family history

By Lyu Chang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-23 07:51

It seems that the DNA of adventure runs in the family of Bertrand Piccard.

Even with a father and grandfather who made names for themselves in history, the Swiss pilot has still found a way to surprise the world.

Born in a family of firsts, Piccard, the creator of Solar Impulse 2, decided to take the first around-the-world tour in March on a fully solar-powered aircraft, together with co-founder and co-pilot Andre Borschberg.

"This is something that I've wanted to do for a long time. You see, they have conquered the heights and the depths of the planet, leaving me no choice but to circumnavigate the world," he said.

Piccard's grandfather, physics professor Auguste, was the first to explore the stratosphere, ascending 16 kilometers in a hot air balloon in 1931.

His father Jacques, together with American Dan Walsh, were the first to reach the deepest point of the oceans, the Mariana Trench, in 1960, dropping 10.9 km to the floor of the western Pacific.

While his ancestors went up and down, Bertrand took a more horizontal path. In 1999, together with Brian Jones from the United Kingdom, he flew more than 45,000 km in 20 days and circumnavigated the Earth in a hot-air balloon.

Piccard said the journey with a solar-powered plane was inspired by his experience as a child, when he was fascinated with flight.

Growing up in a family of explorers, he was taken to see several US space launches as a child. "The inspiration for the project was probably born then," he said.

But getting from idea to reality was easier said than done.

The project took 12 years of study, trials and challenges to overcome the technical problems, not to mention the financial difficulties.

But as the co-pilots kept constantly pushing back the limits of the impossible, people started to be interested in the project and were willing to sponsor it.

And here they are today, with Solar Impulse 2.

They are also flying the flag for renewable energy, nature and the environment.

"Our goal is to interact with different people and countries and show local governments the potential of clean energy," Piccard said.

Asked about his next dream, Piccard said the two are open to all options and ready for anything.

"If I can tell you what I will do after this flight, then it's no longer an adventure, it's a business plan." he said.

"Maybe we will build Solar Impulse 3, or maybe we will try to build a high-altitude telecommunications platform. We don't know yet."

But no matter what direction the Piccard family explores, there is always the same message: be brave and creative, go for your dream and never stop trying to make the world a better place.

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