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Around the world in 11 days?

July 23, 2016

An adventurer who took to the skies for a round-the-world hot air balloon trip claims to have set a world record. If confirmed, it means Fedor Konyukhov would have circumvented the globe in a little more than 11 days.

Fedor Konyukhov russischer Abenteurer
Image: picture alliance/empics

The 65 -year-old pilot was slowly coming back to earth in the Australian Outback Saturday after claiming a new solo flying record for traveling around the world nonstop in just over 11 days, his crew says.

Balloon pilot Fedor Konyukhov demonstrated precision navigation of his 56-meter (184-foot) -tall helium and hot-air balloon by returning to Australia directly over the west coast city of Perth, then over the airfield at the Australian town of Northam, 96 kilometers (60 miles) to the east by road. He took off on July 12.

But high winds have caused the ground crew to keep him aloft to ensure a safe landing.

"We want to get him a bit further inland where there's a bit more open space and some big paddocks and hopefully get him clear of power lines which are a big concern," crew member Steve Griffin said from Northam. "The balloon is coated with an aluminum foil so we don't want it touching power lines or the whole thing will become live."

Konyukhov's flight route took him from Australia to above New Zealand, across the Pacific Ocean, South America, the Cape of Good Hope and the Southern Ocean - all in roughly 11 days and six hours.

If confirmed, that would break the 2002 record held by US businessman Steve Fossett, the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon. It took Fossett 13 days.

An ordained Russian Orthodox priest, Konyukhov has previously conquered both the north and south poles solo, and set a record sailing a 27-metre-long (89-feet) boat round the world alone.

His flight coordinator John Wallington says the Russian is in it for the adventure, not the glory.

"He just thought it would be a really nice thing to do," Wallington said of the round-the-world journey. "Breaking a record is a nice bonus, but the objective was just to fly around the world."

The Swiss-based World Air Sports Federation has yet to confirm a new record.

Russian launches balloon in Australia in record attempt

jar/rc (AP, AFP)