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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

President, initiator 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 Bertrand Piccard's 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, follow him on google+twitter, facebook.

I’d been looking forward to this moment impatiently! After all the missions flown in the first prototype Solar Impulse, I’ve finally got my hands on the controls of Si2, the actual round-the-world plane.

Since Markus, our test pilot, first flew it in June, followed by André about ten days ago, my impatience became more and more difficult to contain! When I climbed into the cockpit, I felt a mixture of excitement, concentration, and gratitude to all the team who had contributed to the construction of this technological ...

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Since Markus, our test pilot, first flew it in June, followed by André about ten days ago, my impatience became more and more difficult to contain! When I climbed into the cockpit, I felt a mixture of excitement, concentration, and gratitude to all the team who had contributed to the construction of this technological gem.

To familiarize myself with the aircraft, I started by doing some taxi trials on the runway. Then came the moment to set full power on all four electric motors… and to feel my heart-rate speed up slightly. Once I heard Nils, the ground team chief, say "Main wheel lift-off" in my headset, I could start an hour-long taming of this huge 72 meter wingspan monster. Nothing is done as in a normal plane, so the simulator training sessions really paid off. Then, I had to demonstrate three touchdowns in order to convince Raymond Clerc, my flight instructor. Followed by a champagne celebration with the team!

There is one other thing I wanted to share with you: the beautiful lighting of this sunset over Lake Neuchâtel

This flight was a key milestone in the final run-up to the round-the-world flight. But next year’s adventure will be much more difficult, with flights of up to 5 consecutive days and nights! Today, at least we know that André and I are ready to attempt it.

The best pictures of my first flight are online!

 

 

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