The crew of a Russian balloonist claims that he has set a new world record for the fastest circumnavigation of earth solo on a hot air balloon, agencies reported.
They claim 65-year-old Fyodor Konyukhov’s balloon re-entered the Australian town of Northam airfield — after 11 days on July 22.
However, the claim will require the World Air Sports Federation confirmation before a formal announcement is made. If it gets a green signal, Konyukhov will have beaten American business leader and adventurer Steve Fossett’s 2002 record. Fossett had managed to clock his journey in 13 and half days.
Konyukhov’s journey had taken off from Australia on July 12. He was flying on a 56m (154 ft) helium and hot air driven balloon. He flew over New Zealand, the Pacific Ocean, South America, the Cape of Good Hope and the Southern Ocean before safely landing in Australia on July 22. Konyukhov is a survivalist, traveller, yacht captain and a balloon pilot.
Konyukhov’s son Oscar has said that he was proud of his father’s achievement and called it a ‘miracle.’
“As a son, I’m very proud of my father. It’s just difficult to comprehend what he just achieved. He completed round-the-world solo flight on the first attempt, ” he was quoted as saying.
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.
“To have the bravery, the courage… I don’t think there is a more capable adventurer anywhere in the world today, very few other people could have done this.”
The first recorded around the world hot air balloon flight was achieved in 1999 when Swiss Betrand Piccard and British Brian Jones teamed up and broke the record.
Fossett’s 2002 solo-flight was only after 6 previous attempts. According to experts, the earth circumnavigation trip is perhaps the most challenging competition in hot air balloon flight.