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Fedor Konyukhov in the gondola of his hot air balloon
Image: picture alliance/empics

Russian sets off in balloon in record attempt

July 12, 2016

The 65-year-old balloon pilot has embarked on a solo flight to fly around the world in a balloon in less than 13 days. The record was set by American aviator Steve Fossett in 2002.


Russian balloonist and survivalist Fedor Konyukhov on Tuesday embarked on a solo flight around the world in a hot air balloon from Western Australia.

"I like to travel. That's the truth. I was 15 years old when I went on my first adventures. It's my lifestyle," the 65-year-old adventurer told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ahead of the launch.

He hopes to complete the journey in less than 13 days, a world record set by American aviator Steve Fossett in 2002.

Konyukhov's aerial vessel is 52 meters (170 feet) tall and weighs 1,600 kilograms (3,500 pounds), although the gondola housing him only fits a single person.

His hot air balloon is expected to reach speeds of 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) on the jet stream, while reaching cruising altitudes between 5,000 and 8,000 meters.

The journey will take him over Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Ocean, Chile, Argentina, the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa and the Indian Ocean before arriving back in Western Australia.

Konyukhov's previous adventures include rowing across the Pacific Ocean in 160 days, walking to the north and south poles, climbing Mount Everest and sailing around the world.

At fifteen years of age, he accomplished his first expedition by crossing the Sea of Azov in a row boat, according to his website.

Russian launches balloon in Australia in record attempt

ls/rc (dpa, AP)

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