On Tuesday, 12 July at 07:30 Local Time (00:30 UTC), Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov, 65, took off in a hot-air balloon in Northam, Western Australia, in a bid to beat the record time for a solo flight around the world. This has only been achieved once before by no other than the late American aviator legend Steve Fossett, who also took off from Northam Airfield in 2002 and is still a current FAI World Record. Konyukhov and his team have been preparing for the challenge for close to a year. He is confident that the balloon’s new technology will help him to break the standing record. He is hoping to fly 33,000km in 13 days or less.
The FAI Official Observer Australian John Wallington from the Australian Ballooning Federation and his Assistant British Donald Cameron, Member of the CIA Records Subcommittee, are controlling if FAI’s Sporting Code and its rules are respected. The sub-class AM Roziere stands 52 metres tall and weighs 8,500 kilograms, although the adventurer will be confined to a pod not much bigger than himself in its gondola.
The flight path for his trip goes over Australia, the Tasman Sea, New Zealand, the Pacific Ocean, South America (Chile and Argentina), the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa and the Indian Ocean, before ending back in Australia. His current location can be followed on his website, he is currently in the skies of New South Wales.
A lifetime of adventures
The 65-year-old adventurer, who is also a Russian orthodox priest, is no stranger to long, perilous journeys.
He has climbed Mount Everest, sailed around the world, walked to the North and South poles and last year rowed across the Pacific Ocean to Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Photo credit: ABC News / Briana Shepherd
Video credit: Al Jazeera English