The magic of Solar Impulse recreated at Ramaiah University with Dr. Piccard

The humblest man I have ever met made his way out in the Bangalore traffic to visit Gnanagangothri campus of M S Ramaiah Institutions, to give a talk on his journey with the Balloon and the Solar Impulse around the globe at the beautiful Dwarka auditorium of the Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences. Dr. Bertrand Piccard, a pilot, environmentalist, a pyschatrist by profession accepted our invitation to inspire the young minds of Ramaiah University.




Dr. Bertrand Piccard



A talk which lasted for more than 30 minutes was one of the most inspiring talks I have ever heard.

Date: – 12th January, 2018

Time: – 4:30 PM

Venue: – Dwarka Auditorium, Gnanagangothri Campus, Bangalore


Excerpts of the Talk


Paradigm Shift

His father’s grandfather was a professor at the local university. He bought a telephone and showed it to his colleagues, and demonstrated the same at that time by calling his wife (i.e., Dr. Bertrand Piccard’s great grandmother) stating that he would be late for lunch. All predicted it would fail. How did it succeed? Because of the invention of the operating station which connected the calls for the people. Aeroplane, Everest, South Pole, Moon, Marina Trench, Size of Computer, etc. was all achieved within a span of 66 years, only because the way of thinking changed.

Key takeaway: – Not necessarily the first innovation is the best product. There is more room for improvement, just a paradigm shift in thinking it works! It worked with Silicon chips to reduce room-sized computers; there is a sure way out of any problem.



How inspiring can a journey without fuel, without noise in the air be? This motivated Dr. Bertrand Piccard to do with Solar Impulse. With the Balloon ride consuming over 3.7 tonnes of liquid propane, a travel without fuel would eliminate the problem of carrying fuel, make environment more habitable.

Key takeaway: – Ideas and inspiration doesn’t come at the first go. It is a process of iteration. Had he not tried the balloon ride, which takes 6 days to go around the world in 20 days, the Solar Impulse wouldn’t have struck to change the way air travel can happen.



40000 KM is not enough. We need more. Take it further

How to do it

Impossible things don’t find support from all corners. For which he suggested to catch hold of one person, university, institution, etc. and then work over it. He gave the example of the support he received from the Swiss University whose President was a Doctor by Profession and the Vice President was a Biologist. It gave him credibility he needed for the product. Then create a win-win situation for all. Similar to the engineers who worked for 15 years, are the ambassadors of the Solar Impulse. The final rule is to commit it in public, which doesn’t allow you to give up.

Key takeaway: – Support is never available. You must create it.


Ambassador of Energy


How to work on something which has never been done?

Bring in new people from different sectors of the industry to develop a product. This would result in 1 + 1 = 3, while bringing people from the same domain won’t add much value to new ideas. He did this in Solar Impulse (though he struggled for two years to make it 3) by uniting the American Cup Winner Ship-developer and the engineers at Solar Impulse to create a carbon-fibre product. One knew about carbon fibre, the other team knew about the aerodynamics of an aircraft. Result: – Solar Impulse

Key takeaway: – Innovation and ideas are not a property of a particular stream. You will find smarter people who can keep inspiring you and make an amazing product.


Best way to approach Life

Dr. Bertrand Piccard says, “The Company which makes the best candles, doesn’t make light bulbs”. Innovation is not coming from the system, rather from outside the system. Similar is with life. When we question “Why life is bad to me?, we get stupid answers. Rather we must question “Why am I not ready for life”. Ask different questions, which will inspire you to do something amazing.

Life is like a Balloon. It doesn’t listen to the wind even if you beg or pray to god. You can only change the altitude it is flying on. As wind speed is different at different altitudes, similar is the case with life. Change the way you approach crisis, and life would be amazing.

Follow people who have doubts. Grab information from all people, be it in religion or orientation of political parties. Implement them in your life to make it amazing. Make life like a firewall. Just increase the Smallest Common Denominator.



Change Altitude



Against the notion of freedom in India, Dr. Piccard gave the right definition “Freedom is when we can think everything not do everything”. He implemented it in Solar Impulse by thinking about a noiseless zero-pollution journey. It was a success after 15 years. Dedication gives the freedom to think. He suggests to ask yourself every day in the morning, whether you are doing something to serve your broader goal? If yes, then you must never give it up.


Solar Alliance

A Not for Profit organization which is aimed at curating 1000 ideas by matching them to experts, investors and the media.







Oblige to change, in difficulty or crisis. The best way to manage crisis is by taking an adventure against it. If you fail to do so, you are bound to stay where you are.



Last Image — Moisture frozen


The best statement


100 marks for this answer



My take

My readers generally ask me to give my take after any blog post analysis. Introducing this for the first time in this post


It was an amazing speech or rather I was astonished by the down-to-earth nature of Dr. Bertrand Piccard. A living inspiration to all. Be it the light humour on the stage or the willingness to listen and answer to each and every question posed to him. His willingness was visible by the way he oriented the loudspeaker to be clear about the question asked. With Seshagopalan continuously giving inputs during the speech, the entire experience was amazing.


Kamath: – Hello Sir, My name is Shashank Kamath; it is a pleasure meeting you.

Dr. Piccard: – (with a wink) Likewise!



Bertrand Piccard with Kamath





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