Auguste Piccard was a Swiss-Belgian physicist, inventor, and explorer, known for his record-breaking balloon flights to the stratosphere, as well as the invention for bathyscaphe to allow for deep ocean exploration.
Unfortunately for him, flat-Earthers are claiming him as their own these days. It started from a Popular Science article from 1931, saying:
Through portholes, the observers saw the earth through copper-colored then bluish, haze. It seemed a flat disk with upturned edge.
But, no. In reality, Auguste Piccard was not even close to being a flat-Earther.
He reached the altitude of 15781 m (51775 ft) before the interview took place; not that far above the altitude of a commercial passenger flight today. Earth’s curvature is still not easy to ascertain from the altitude.
He told RTS Radio that he did not notice Earth’s curvature from the small porthole of his chamber, but he was sure he would be able to see it if he were using a ruler. In his balloon flight, he was inside the chamber the entire time, and can only see the outside from several small portholes, which are 8 cm (3 in) in diameter.
He wrote his experiences in his book “Earth, Sky, and Sea.” He never once mentioned flat-Earth. On the contrary, the word ‘globe’ was mentioned many times.
His grandson —Bertrand Piccard who was the first to complete balloon flight around the globe— claimed in his website that Auguste Piccard was the first man to witness the curvature of the Earth.
Table of Contents
The Popular Science Article
This is the curvature of the Earth should look like at the altitude of Auguste Piccard’s first flight.
RTS Radio Interview
This is the aforementioned RTS Radio interview. It was in French. Turn on subtitle and translation to get subtitles in English or another language. The relevant parts start from 7m25s.
The Relation to Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard
Auguste Piccard was the inspiration behind the character Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek, pictured below with the appropriate reaction after hearing claims that Auguste Piccard was a flat-Earther.