Sunday 24 July 2016

World "Hot air balloon" record smashed

As mentioned on this blog on Tuesday 12th July a 64year old Russian adventurer named Fedor Konyukhov took off from Northam Western Australia in a hot air-helium balloon in a round-the-world-in-13-days world record attempt. I am happy to report that the Russian adventurer has broken the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth in a hot air balloon in just over 11 days, landing safely in WA's Wheatbelt.
Mr Konyukhov, who set off from Western Australia's Avon Valley on July 12, landed near the small town of Bonnie Rock about 4.30pm (WST).
After being pushed dangerously close to Antarctica, Konyukhov turned northeast towards WA, keeping his world record round-the-world-in-13-days bid well and truly alive.
The bad weather and polar jet stream forced him thousands of kilometres south, closer to Antarctica than Australia.
The daredevil Russian adventurer had battled extreme cold for the past few days, reporting temperatures as severe as -45C after his on-board heating system failed over the South Atlantic.
As he arrived back in Western Australia there was concern the difficult task of landing the balloon might be problematic, but Mr Konyukhov was able to land the craft with a hour of daylight in hand.
The crew had been waiting for winds to drop and to find the ideal place for the adventurer to land.
The 65-year-old has broken the 14-year-old record set by American adventurer Steve Fossett.
Mr Fossett is the only other person to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, which he completed in 13-and-a-half days. (see story 12th July for details)
As Mr Konyukhov broke the record, his team on the ground let out three cheers and popped some champagne.
Mr Konyukhov's son Oscar described his father's achievement as a miracle.
"As a son, I'm very proud of my father. It's just difficult to comprehend what he just achieved," he said.
"He completed round-the-world solo flight on the first attempt."
The flight's coordinator John Wallington said it was an incredible achievement.
"The objective was to get him back on the ground safely, but of course this record is just a fantastic bonus," he said.

Picture: Oscar Konyukhov/Morton/AP

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