Jan 21, 2010

Lessons from Bertrand Piccard

Bertrand Piccard went around the world in a balloon. His balloon is in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, together with the airplane of Charles Lindbergh with Apollo 11, with the Wright Brothers Flier,  with Chuck Yeager's 61. The trip required 3.7 tons of liquid propane.

He shares some lessons with TED, including maps of wind, photos and more. His ballast metaphor is interesting: lighten up to get ahead:

How do we steer a balloon? By understanding that the atmosphere is made out of several different layers of wind which all have different direction. So, then, we understand that if we want to change our trajectory, in life, or in the balloon, we have to change altitude.  Changing altitude, in life, that means raising to another psychological, philosophical, spiritual level. But how do we do that?... Well, in a balloon it's easy, we have ballast.  And when we drop the ballast overboard we climb.  Sand, water, all the equipment we don't need anymore.  And I think in life it should be exactly like this... throwing overboard, as ballast, to change our direction.

But his main metaphor relates to the freezing temperatures that you encounter when you float on the wind-lanes. "When I took this picture, the window was frozen because of the moisture of the night. And on the other side there was a rising sun."

Piccard is now working on a solar powered airplane that can store enough power during the day to stay aloft at night.


TED video, Bertrand Piccard's solar-powered adventure

Website: http://www.SolarImpulse.com