Swiss ex­plorer and record-breaker ‘re­turns’ to Myan­mar

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

So­lar Im­pulse pi­lot Ber­trand Pic­card who flew the so­lar-pow­ered air­craft in to Mandalay on March 19 is no stranger to the Golden Land.

As he re­called on the So­lar Im­pulse live news chan­nel – cov­er­ing the at­tempt by Pic­card and his com­pa­triot An­dre Borschberg to cir­cle the globe purely on so­lar power – Myan­mar of­fered him refuge dur­ing an aborted at­tempt to travel around the world in a high-altitude bal­loon back in 1998. Blocked by China from en­ter­ing its airspace, and short on fuel, Pic­card was given per­mis­sion to land in Myan­mar. Mr Pic­card went on in 1998 with Mr Brian Jones to carry out the first non-stop bal­loon cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of the world, fly­ing a to­tal of 45,755 kilo­me­tres in 19 days.

Speak­ing from the pi­lot seat as he headed to­wards Myan­mar on March 19, Pic­card said he had a love of the coun­try, the peo­ple and the tem­ples and had vis­ited again - in the wake of his first record-break­ing suc­cess - to spend two weeks fly­ing hot air bal­loons in­clud­ing a stint over the an­cient city of Ba­gan.

The pi­lot and his col­league ar­rived with a mes­sage for Myan­mar, namely the need to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­i­ties of so­lar and other re­new­able sources of en­ergy, and to move to dis­card re­liance on fos­sil fu­els. As he sat in the cock­pit, he said he hoped their mission would in­spire peo­ple in Myan­mar.

In the blood

“Noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble” has been the con­stant mantra of record-break­ing Swiss ex­plorer Pic­card, who is at­tempt­ing to make his­tory again – fol­low­ing his suc­cess with a bal­loon - with the first round-the-world so­lar flight.

Pic­card is the scion of a dy­nasty of trail­blaz­ers: his grand­fa­ther Au­guste was the first man to climb to the strato­sphere in a bal­loon while his fa­ther Jac­ques was

the first to reach the deep­est point of the world’s oceans.

Born on March 1, 1958 in the pic­turesque lake­side city of Lau­sanne, Pic­card was greatly in­spired by his il­lus­tri­ous fore­bears and was fas­ci­nated by chal­lenge from a very early age. He has said a defin­ing mo­ment in his life was the lift-off of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969 which landed the first hu­mans on the moon. The 11-year-old Pic­card got to wit­ness the his­toric mo­ment live from Cape Canaveral, Florida since Wern­her von Braun, the in­ven­tor of the Apollo rock­ets, was a fam­ily friend.

“The mo­ment was a turn­ing point in my life,” he says on his web­site.

“There and then I thought: ‘Th­ese as­tro­nauts, who are now set­ting off for the moon, have a dream, and that dream is greater than the fear of fail­ure. Th­ese he­roes dare to do the im­pos­si­ble. They are do­ing some­thing that no hu­man be­ing has done be­fore them. That is true

Ber­trand Pic­card, be­low, and left with Myan­mar Pres­i­dent U Thein Sein

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