Fedor Konyukhov
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07.01.2017

[ENG] «Федор Конюхов. Повелитель ветра»

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18.11.2016

Russian balloonist Fedor Konyukhov awarded FAI - Breitling Pilot of the Year 2016 Award

Lausanne, Switzerland, 18 November 2016 – A Russian priest and balloon pilot who circumnavigated the world in a balloon in record time has been presented the inaugural FAI - Breitling Pilot of the Year Award at a ceremony in Switzerland yesterday, Thursday 17 November 2016.

Details

Lausanne, Switzerland, 18 November 2016 – A Russian priest and balloon pilot who circumnavigated the world in a balloon in record time has been presented the inaugural FAI - Breitling Pilot of the Year Award at a ceremony in Switzerland yesterday, Thursday 17 November 2016.

The round-the-world balloonist was given the award in recognition of his historic flight earlier this year, which saw him become only the third balloon team to successfully fly around the world in one flight. In the process he set a new FAI world record, completing the mission in a record time of 268 hours 20 minutes.

Konyukhov travelled to Switzerland from his home in Moscow to receive his award, where he was also given the official FAI Diploma in recognition of his record flight.

“I am extremely happy to have been given this award,” he said. “I’m really very proud. I thank all the people who helped make this happen.”

Konyukohov's flight happened earlier this year, in July. After two years of planning he took off from Northam Airfield in Western Australia on 12 July 2016. He then flew solo around the world for 11 days 4 hours and 20 minutes before landing back almost exactly where he started.

In a quirk of meteorology that Konyukhov’s team called a “billion-to-one chance”, after travelling 33,521.4km around the Earth Konyukhov literally flew over his original take-off field before landing safely back in Western Australia a few hours later.

Konyukohov survived freezing temperatures, faulty oxygen cylinders and thunderstorms during the flight, which was made in a specially built balloon that was 10-times bigger than a standard balloon. He slept little, in micro-sleeps of a mere minutes or even seconds, and lost 11kg during the voyage.

"It was an extremely dynamic experience," he said. "Compared to my other expeditions, which have all been longer but slower, this was extremely intense."

Konyukhov is no stranger to extreme challenges. The Russian adventurer has climbed Everest twice, rowed across the Atlantic and the Pacific, sailed around the world several times, and been to both Poles. An ordained Russian Orthodox priest, he is also a working artist, and well known in his home country.

He took up ballooning only two years ago, and is the first person to successfully fly around the world in a balloon at their first attempt. Before he took off on his round-the-world adventure he had logged 250 hours flying balloons.

“I did not set out to break world records,” he said. “This has been a dream of mine for many years. I followed it when Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones made the first flight, and then again when Steve Fossett made his.”

He added: “I have been imagining it for years. While sailing around the world I would lay back and look up at the stars, and dream about flying past in a balloon overhead.”

Only three teams have successfully completed a complete circumnavigation of the Earth by balloon.

First to do it were aviators Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones. They spent 20 days in the air in March 1999 after launching from Chateau d’Oex in Switzerland.

Second, and first to do it solo, was American pilot Steve Fossett. He launched from Northam Airport in Western Australia in June 2002 and spent 13 days aloft before landing back in Queensland in Northern Australia on 3 July 2002.

And third was Konyukhov’s flight, which took off on 12 July 2016 and landed on 23 July 2016.

President of the FAI, the World Air Sports Federation, Frits Brink, presented Konyukhov with the FAI Diploma and said: “It makes me very proud to hand over this very special Diploma. For the FAI you are one of the heroes we need, to show our air sports to the whole world. Congratulations.”

And fellow round-the-world balloonist Brian Jones was on hand at the Breitling headquarters in Switzerland to present Konyukhov with a special engraved Breitling watch.

Shaking Konyukhov's hand, Jones said: “When Fedor took on the challenge of flying around the world in the Southern Hemisphere it was an incredibly serious challenge.

“It takes a special kind of person to make this flight because 75% of your flight is over what mountaineers on Everest would call the ‘Death Zone’. If there’s something wrong with the balloon you are going to die. So it’s an incredible feat to get around the world.”

He also paid tribute to the late Steve Fossett. “I was a good friend of Steve Fossett, so I’m quite comfortable in saying on behalf of Steve, Bertrand Piccard and myself, welcome to this very small club of round-the-world balloonists, and congratulations on your flight.”

The FAI - Breitling Pilot of the Year Award is a new award launched by the FAI and Breitling this year. It is designed to recognize outstanding achievements in the world of air sports. The specialist in chronographs and instruments for professionals, Breitling, signed a long-term partnership agreement in 2012 with the World Air Sports Federation (FAI). This is the logical culmination of a long and distinguished history intimately bound up with the conquest of the skies.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

Pilot: Fedor Konyukhov, born 12 December 1951

Record: Shortest Time Around the World

Take off: Northam Airfield, Western Australia

Time and date of take off: 7.33am 12 July 2016 (local time)

Time to circumnavigate the globe: 268 hours 20 minutes

Landing: Bonnie Rock, Mukinbundin, Western Australia

Distance travelled: 33,521.4km

Maximum height reached: 10,570m

Type of balloon: Cameron R550, Roziere balloon. Unlike a traditional hot air balloon, a Roziere balloon uses a mix of lighter-than-air gas (helium) and gas burners to stay aloft for long periods of time. It is the only type of balloon that can be used for ultra-long distance balloon flights.

Previous records: Steve Fossett's solo flight around the world took him 320 hours 33 minutes, and covered 33,195km. Fedor Konyukhov broke this record by 52 hours 13 minutes.

 

About FAI

The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), also known as the World Air Sports Federation, is the world governing body for air sports and for certifying world aviation and space records. The FAI was founded in 1905 and is a non-governmental and non-profit-making organisation recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

FAI activities include Aerobatics, Aeromodelling, Airships, Amateur-Built and Experimental Aircraft, Balloons, Gliding, Hang Gliding, Helicopters, Manpowered Flying, Microlights, Parachuting, Paragliding, Paramotors, Power Flying and all other Aeronautic and Astronautic sporting activities.

For more details, please contact:

FAI – Fédération Aéronautique Internationale                

Faustine Carrera                                                                     
Communication Manager                                             

0041 21 345 10 70                                                       

communication@fai.org 



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12.10.2016

Hot-Air Balloon High-Altitude Record Attempt

Fedor Konyukhov is to attempt another, balloon world-record… a hot-air adventure, high up in the Stratosphere and he has chosen Cameron Balloons as his balloon manufacturer once again.

Details

Fedor Konyukhov is to attempt another, balloon world-record… a hot-air adventure, high up in the Stratosphere and he has chosen Cameron Balloons as his balloon manufacturer once again.

After three successful, non-stop, round-the-world balloons built by Cameron Balloons; the first in 1999 sponsored by Breitling, the second in 2002 flown solo by Steve Fossett and most recently a 56metre tall balloon flown in 2016 by Fedor Konyukhov, whose solo, magnificent flight, around-the-world took just 11days, 8hours and 32minutes.

Cameron Balloons is now beginning the planning for a new world-record attempt with Adventurer, Fedor Konyukhov.

Cameron Balloons Z-3,500,000 Envelope

The Altitude Balloon – Fast Facts.
The balloon envelope will be the largest, hot-air balloon EVER built.
It will be a Cameron Balloons Z-3,500,000 hot-air envelope, with a volume of 3.5million cubic feet.
The envelope will stand over 68metres tall, will be over 61metres at its widest point and will need over 8,500 metres (8.5km) of fabric to build it.

The Aim of the Project.
Fedor’s aim is to fly higher than the current world-record held by Indian Businessman Vijaypat Singhania, who on in November 2005 flew to an astonishing altitude of 21,027m (68,986 ft) in a Cameron Balloons 1.6million cubic foot, Z-1600, hot-air balloon - over Mumbai, India VJ broke all previous world-records, landing successfully and safely, a few hours later.

It is Fedor’s wish (and something he is particularly looking forward to, as he has wanted to see this for himself since he was a young boy) to fly high enough to see the curvature of the earth and to look out at the inky-blackness of the cosmos - which can be observed from altitudes of about 35,000metres / 114,800feet.

Cameron Balloons High Altitude Gondola

Fedor Konyukhov is working towards a high-altitude, record-breaking, solo, hot-air balloon flight which he plans to launch from the ‘Cosmodrome’ in Siberia, Russia.

The high altitude balloon is to be built by Cameron Balloons in Bristol, the world's experts in lighter-than-air flight. 

To give you an idea of the scale of this project (and a quick guide through the layers of atmosphere into space).

Fedor will fly through the Troposphere and into the Stratosphere…
The Troposphere is the ‘layer’ nearest the ground and is 5 to 9 miles (8 to14 kilometres) thick - depending on where you are on Earth. (It is thinner at the North and South Pole.) This section of the earth’s atmosphere has the air we breathe and the majority of the ‘weather’ clouds and is made up of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen with the last 1% comprising of argon, water vapour and carbon dioxide. The air is densest in this lowest layer holding three-quarters of the mass of our entire atmosphere.

Above the Troposphere layer is the Stratosphere, the layer that Fedor intends to fly within. This layer of our atmosphere also has its own set of layers. There are no storms or turbulence here to mix up the air, so cold, heavy air sinks to the bottom and 'warmer', lighter air remains at the ‘top’. The total opposite of how the ‘layers’ work in the Troposphere. The Stratosphere ‘layer’ is about 22 miles or 35 kilometres thick and contains the important ozone layer. The ozone layer’s main ‘job’ is to absorb the majority of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Although some swans can fly at Fedor’s intended record-breaking altitude - generally most jet aircraft fly below, with most being operated at about 30,000ft (smaller fixed-wing aircraft usually only fly at up to, about 10,000ft, where most other birds fly)

Fedor intends to fly nearly four times higher than Mount Everest’s summit peak which stands at 8,848metres/29,028 feet (Everest’s summit is the world’s highest elevation above sea level).

Additionally, there is also a layer where Auroras happen, the Ionosphere, where gases, with charged ion particles that have been affected by the Earth and Sun’s magnetic fields can be clearly observed glowing and shimmering in ‘waves’ of light, most usually around the poles visible against the long dark winter skies.

The next layer, although also too high for our project, is known as Mesosphere and is about 22miles or 35kilometres thick and is the place where meteor showers or shooting stars burn-up across the sky as they whizz through this layer with the effect of friction of air, creating enormous heat and light that can be seen from the ground.

The Thermosphere layer lies in between the Mesosphere and the edge of space and temperatures in this layer can reach up to 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit / 2,482 degrees Celsius although if you could be in that environment you would be very cold because there aren’t enough gas molecules to transfer the heat to you. This also means there aren’t enough molecules for any sound to travel through either. This layer of Earth’s atmosphere is about 319 miles or 513 kilometres thick, much thicker than the inner layers of the atmosphere,
but not as thick as the exosphere. The thermosphere is also home to the International Space Station as it orbits Earth as well as other low Earth orbit satellites.

Lastly, there is the Exosphere, the very edge of our atmosphere, the next area would be outer space. This layer is about 6,200 miles or 10,000 kilometres) thick. That’s almost as wide as Earth itself. The Exosphere is enormous and contains some gases including hydrogen and helium, but the molecules are very spread out with a lot of empty space in between and it’s very cold.

Timescales for the project… well, so far, we have had a very productive initial meeting with the Konyukhov’s and Mikhail Simonyan - president of Open Sea Foundation and Fedor has indicated that he would like to attempt the high altitude hot-air balloon flight in late summer 2017 – but like all our other big projects, sponsors-wishes and funding-streams play an important part in final timescales - so we at Cameron Balloons have agreed to a nine-month timescale from the sales agreement order point to this enormous hot-air balloon being ready for delivery. 

Cameron Balloons Ltd

www.cameronballoons.co.uk

 



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08.08.2016

Putting a string around the world with a balloon: the Konyukhov RTW flight weather strategy

The goal of the Fedor Konyukhov RTW flight in July 2016 was to beat the record of 13 days flying around the world in a balloon, held by Steve Fossett since 2002. I was also involved in the Fossett record, and I helped him in the 3 successful RTW flights in Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer in 2005 and 2006.

Details

By David PG Dehenauw. Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium University of Ghent.

Introduction

The goal of the Fedor Konyukhov RTW flight in July 2016 was to beat the record of 13 days flying around the world in a balloon, held by Steve Fossett since 2002. I was also involved in the Fossett record, and I helped him in the 3 successful RTW flights in Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer in 2005 and 2006. 

Cameron Balloons, with consent from Fedor Konyukhov, contacted me in 2015 to ask for meteorological support during the flight, probably because I was involved in earlier successful RTW attempts. I accepted as I became aware of the true adventurous spirit of Fedor Konyukhov.

The first thing is of course to identify a decent launch weather window. That was not always easy as a near zero wind speed was required at Northam, Western Australia. A stable boundary layer, preferably with an inversion would be advantageous. Forecasting the details of a boundary layer can be difficult due to a lack of knowledge of the local climatology, so locals had a strong voice in the decision to launch. I always use local input for determining surface weather conditions, as even today’s weather forecast models can have some trouble with boundary layer forecasts on a very local scale.

Launch strategy and initial stages of the flight

After some trial and error, a good weather launch window was found for 12th July at 0 UTC. Of course, none of this is useful if the upper wind pattern upstream is not favorable. But on this date everything came together. I cancelled an earlier opportunity which would have taken Fedor immediately over sea in frontal clouds and precipitation, which would have caused a great deal of stress from the start and might have jeopardized the whole project.

In order to let the pilot get acquainted with the balloon and test some of the equipment aboard, it is preferable to have him fly over land for 48 hours, so he could land in case of some technical problems and weather would not be an issue. The balloon ceiling, at it lowest point in the early part of the flight, could serve as the flight level to keep ballast and all fuel aboard.

Fedor reported some clear air turbulence when getting into the jet stream, leaving Australia. Normally balloons are more subject to convective turbulence instead of clear air turbulence, which is more of an issue for aircraft, but taking into account the height of the balloon (60 meters) and the wind shear involved in the zone near the jet stream, this could not be avoided and did no harm.

I e-mailed my forecasts to the flight control centre several times a day and told them regularly that according to my 4 previous experiences, no RTW flight could be done without some unexpected drama and some bad weather. I was always fully aware forecasts would not be perfect at all times and always had several options in mind, as I did in previous attempts. I also knew at some crucial moments during RTW flights, forecast error margin would be zero.

The Pacific crossing

In the Pacific, after a few days of flying, an active cold front had to be crossed. I tried to find trajectories at different altitudes to cross it at the east active part, where the Cb’s would be less high and less frequent. We succeeded in getting him trough that zone but that did not imply a calm flight. Fedor still had to watch out for Cb’s, would have to be able to spot these and by carefully navigating around these clouds, avoid them. He had to cross the front in daylight of course ! This was another constraint but all went well. Don Cameron woke me up before the frontal crossing because he had doubts about the strategy and ask me to reconsider. I did offer a few other options and we exchanged views about it, but it the end, Don was (more) convinced my proposal could work. It did, but Fedor still had to cope with some Cb’s, towering at heights well above the balloon, but did it brilliantly. At that time, I realized he had the skills to succeed.

The approach to South America would be calmer, in a high pressure ridge but still with a few showers in the vicinity, so vigilance was still needed. Because of the frontal crossing, there was considerable ice accumulation on the balloon, making it heavier and causing more fuel consumption to stay at a certain height, which was still needed to keep enough speed to beat Steve's time record.

Over the Andes

Mission control asked me several times to work out a strategy to de-ice the balloon in order to climb high enough over the Andes. That is needed to avoid mountain turbulence that could alter the balloon's track. We also had to be aware of the presence of the Mount Aconcagua (6962 m). So the burners would need to be working in full operational mode. Chilean Air Traffic Control asked to stay away of the Santiago area but this was not easy as we cannot dictate the winds and these were bringing the balloon close to dense air traffic. By running some detailed trajectory calculations, we were able to stay out of it, stay to the north of the Acacongua, at the same time fly in beautiful weather and dry air that allowed the balloon to de-ice without having to drop to very low levels and retarding it. At that time, the 16-17th July, I already put forward a scheme that would allow Fedor to arrive in Australia on the 23rd July, which he did, but not after enduring some epic episodes...

Cumulonimbi in the South Atlantic

Now the South Atlantic was the next challenge. The first part was easy, flying in clear weather. I mailed Mission Control an occluded front would have to be crossed in the middle of the South Atlantic and some Cb’s would be close to us. Now John Wallington, the mission control chief in Northam, woke me up at 0 UTC to ask for immediate advice as Fedor was crossing the front and Cb’s were causing hail and turbulence. After a quick check on his postion and the satellite images, giving me an idea of the speed of the Cb’s and their cloud tops, I advised John to tell Fedor to keep the planned and current altitude because going up would mean lower temperatures in the cabin and going down would slow him down and surrounded by many more Cb’s with tops above balloon height, with hail, turbulence. The current altitude would allow Fedor to escape this rough zone in the fastest way, which he did.

The Indian Ocean challenge

As he neared South African territorial waters, an anticyclone would bring the necessary calm period. Since a couple of days however, I told Mission control the flight from South Africa to Australia would be the most difficult part of the flight, because not only the Indian Ocean jet stream would oblige Fedor to go deep south, but a vigorous low and cold front would have to be crossed and that this was the only route to success. A high pressure area over the Indian Ocean would block a route from Madagascar to Australia (Fossett took advantage of it in 2002 and flew at times at more than 300 km/h !).

I forecasted strong CB’s along the cold front, but to my surprise, some thunderstorms developed also and Fedor was very close to them. He managed to get away from these but this an example of a forecast that was not 100% correct but did not modify the strategy, because the difference between strong showers and a thunderstorm was not influential for altering the strategy. The pilot should avoid these or if not possible, fly high enough to reduce the amount of cloud tops higher than balloon level. At times he flew at more than 10 km ! But it certainly illustrates the need for a good pilot and also for some luck. However, there was absolutely no room for even a small error in the jet stream forecast and picking the right altitude to stay with it and turn back northwards again. Fossett had to go south in the Southern Atlantic in 2002 and I drew experience from that flight to help out poor Fedor, who was in survival mode after a malfunctioning of the heating system, and was nearing the 60th latitude, much deeper to the south than Steve in 2002  … just off Antarctica, where winter reigns in July…

I knew I had to be confident myself before allowing him to go southwards and I was fully aware of the need to reassure the whole team of my confidence in the forecast and to convince them Fedor would go to Australia. However, he would have to fly above 5000-6000 m to stay in the jet stream ! Below that, he would drift towards Antarctica, so I urged the team to be sure the burners would function properly. I also indicated at what time Fedor would turn back northwards and he did. By keeping him at his current altitude of about 8000 m, he accelerated towards Australia in good weather conditions. I told the team if Fedor could hold it to 60 degrees latitude, the weather on his way back would be smooth at flight level. It was.

The landing strategy and the Northam trick

Now I put forward a landing strategy : we had to deal with a cold front near the Australian south west corner so feeder would have to fly above it. The front was not very active, with low cloud tops so we could play somewhat with the heights to try different trajectories. I was in favor of an early morning landing as Fossett did in 2002, in calm conditions, but I got the sense (and the mails !) from Mission Control Fedor and the team were excited about a possible afternoon landing and I suggested this would be possible too, albeit in somewhat windier conditions. 

I ran several trajectories and saw a possibility to fly over Northam again ! This was not the only option however, but the trajectories were allowing such a flight if the right flight levels at the right times were chosen. The experience of the pilot is crucial in this. When doing the Fossett flight, the approach towards Australia was difficult because of model error, so he got the advice to make a balloon sounding himself to find the right altitude and the right track, which he did eventually. The model error at that time was a couple of hundred meters of altitude. Now Fedor started to do a sounding too and based on the trajectories, but with an impressive talent, he managed to fly over Northam again, an absolute first in ballooning ! Pilot and meteorologist clearly pulled some extra force in this last leg, but the role of the pilot in doing this cannot be underestimated. I hinted at the possibility following trial and error calculations, but Fedor had to do it, finetuning the forecast where needed. 

So he landed safely in Western Australia after only 11 days of flight ! He is a hero and one of the greatest adventurers I have ever worked with. Knowing I assisted my late friend Steve Fossett, to whom I will be eternally grateful, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg of Solar Impulse, and Sir Richard Branson, maybe my words may have some weight in the worldwide appreciation of the achievement of Fedor Konyukhov. I had the privilege and distinct honor to guide 5 successive, successful RTW flights: two balloon and three aircraft flights.

Acknowledgements

I want to thank Fedor and Oscar Konyukhov as well as Cameron Balloons for allowing me to participate in this epic flight and for the extraordinary trust invested in me. I am also grateful to the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium for giving me the opportunity to, once again, break out of daily routine. The whole meteorological research community, worldwide, made this possible, by improving the atmospheric models. Special thanks to NOAA and NOAA-ARL. They have influenced my vision on forecasting since the beginning of my career and I am much indebted to them. The ECMWF-forecasts were very useful too and they have proven again to be at the top of atmospheric modeling.

 

Prof. dr. ir. David Dehenauw
Chief Meteorologist / Head of Marine Forecast Section
Weather Presenter VTM / RTL / Vitaya / VRT Radio 2
Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI / KMI / IRM)



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25.07.2016

Successful solo flight - great team work

The Round the world flight is complete and Fedor is back safely to Northam, Western Australia. All equipment is now at the same hangar! It was an incredible event for all those involved directly and indirectly.

Details

The Round the world flight is complete and Fedor is back safely to Northam, Western Australia. All equipment is now at the same hangar! It was an incredible event for all those involved directly and indirectly.

 

Highlights and the world record:

Fedor set new world record fastest time around the world: 11 days 5 hours 11 minutes or 269 hours 11 minutes.

Steve Fossett’s previous record of 320 hours 33 minutes broken by 51 hours and 22 minutes

Total time airborne 11 days 8 hours 43 minutes or 272 hours 43 minutes.   

Total distance between track points 34,977.36 km

Steve Fossett’s previous record was 33,195.1 km  

All calculations are preliminary and subject to study and approval by the FAI.

The third achievement, which will not be entered in the FAI book of records, but is of great importance: Fedor Konyukhov is the first person ever to succeed in flying a balloon around the world on his first attempt.

It took Steve Fossett 6 attempts.

Fedor is the first person ever to fly a balloon around the world and fly back over the same airfield he launched from.   This is probably the most extraordinary achievement of the flight and is unlikely ever to be completed again.     

Fedor dedicated the flight to Steve Fossett as he was a pioneer in this field.

Of course a flight like this requires the involvement of many others to succeed.  Thank you to:

The main sponsor of the flight - a group of companies MORTON that believed in the project, in the team and in the pilot.  It took Fedor Konyukhov 10 years to obtain financing for the project.  Only meeting with the president of GC Morton - Alexander Ruchyev - gave the necessary impetus to the project.  Round the World flight of the Morton balloon was financed by private companies, with GC Morton assuming the main financial burden.

"Morton" group of companies is a leading Russian developer, which in 2016 will celebrate 22 years of successful operations.  The company specializes in the construction of large-scale housing estates in Moscow and in the Moscow Region.  At the beginning of 2016 the total current portfolio of GC "Morton" projects exceeded 8.3 million square meters of housing, and the total number of objects has reached 42.  Company details: http://www.morton.ru/kompaniya/

"Open Sea" Foundation for cultural and educational programs and its president, Mikhail Simonyan for the financial support of the project.

Cameron Balloons, Don Cameron and the entire Cameron team

Cameron Balloons, manufactured the balloon in Bristol England. Overall the balloon is incredibly tough, the gondola well laid out and comfortable and the burner system reliable and powerful enough. Fedor is very complimentary about the system and it got him around the world through some very severe weather! Alan Noble provided advance project management and Don Cameron was the launch master on the 12th of July. Best specialist - Dave Boxall, Pete Johnson, Andy Skirrow, Chris Lachenicht, Simon Whatley and Adrian Keeley travelled to Australia to assemble and launch the balloon from Northam.

John Wallington

Australian Project Manager obtained the approvals for the flight and organised the Australian logistics.  During the flight he was the balloon specialist in Flight Control and assisted Oscar Konyukhov in decisions and flight planning. John's experience was very important for our team as together with Dick Smith he flew across Australia from west to east on a Roziere balloon.

Meteorologist David Dehenauw – Chief Meteorologist/Head of Marine Forecast Section Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI/KMI/IRM). His trajectories, forecasts, warnings and guidance provided for such a successful flight track. Sensational result and David is ballooning weather guru!

Dick Smith

A long-time friend and sponsor of Fedor, introduced him to Cameron Balloons in 2014, organised the essential landing retrieve helicopter from Bonnie Rock and provided non-stop enthusiasm. Dick Smith was Fedor's sponsor for Round the world nonstop sailing voyage in 1990-91. Fedor sailed from Sydney and returned back to Sydney after 222 days at sea.

Flight instructors, who trained and prepared Fedor Konyukhov for this successful flight: Don Cameron (UK) - Roziere balloon piloting theory course, Ivan Menyailo (Russia, hot air balloon training), Giovanni Aimo (Italy, hot air balloon training), Wilhelm Eimers (Germany, gas balloon training and distance flight across the Alps). Gentlemen - you are the best teachers.

Gas supply company Supagas

Seamless supply of helium, ethane, propane and liquid oxygen with Doug Maclaughlan and Erol Arican on site for the tank filling and balloon inflation.

Gren Putland organised local logistics and the many volunteers needed for the launch.

Claude Meunier provided the hanger to prepare the equipment and pack up afterwards.

Anton Parfenov and Jacob Orlov for their tremendous support and 24-hour duties in the Flight Control Center in Northam during the flight.

Andrei Abrosimov and Galina Abrosimova for helping to organize the work of our team in Australia and for attracting volunteers from among our compatriots.

Alexei Vikulov, a translator and tour guide for professional services in translating instructions for operating the balloon’s fuel system and for press releases translations, as well as for work with friends and sponsors who have come to Australia to support Fedor prior to take off. 

The Shire and residents of Northam provided enormous local support including use of the Airport.

Airservices Australia and the air traffic controllers were so flexible as the balloon transited controlled airspace.

The Australian Balloon Federation and The Civil Aviation Safety Authority provided the flight permissions.

World Air Ops with just hours’ notice arranged overfly permissions for 4 South American countries.

Sponsors of the project:

Toyota Russia, Toyota Australia - for the provision of reliable pickup trucks new Toyota Hilux

Breitlingthe official timekeeper of the project

DHLthe official logistics partner

Lenovo - the official IT partner

Tour operator Biblio Globus – for the delivery of the pilot and crew to Australia

Iridium Russia - for the provision of satellite communications

Forward – for outfitting the team and the pilot

Red Fox – for pilot equipment

All supporters and followers who sent positive vibes and thoughts to Fedor. Thank you very much. We did it together!  



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25.07.2016

Appeal To The Public

Fedor and the rest of the team were thrilled to have so many members of the public follow the balloon through the final stages of the flight to its landing point. Several hundred people were onsite for the landing or shortly afterwards. Unfortunately in their enthusiasm the souvenir collectors got a little carried away and many parts of the balloon were removed.

Details

Photo: SkyWorks WA

Fedor and the rest of the team were thrilled to have so many members of the public follow the balloon through the final stages of the flight to its landing point.

Several hundred people were onsite for the landing or shortly afterwards.  Many kids (and adults as well) were able to walk inside the half deflated balloon and also helped squeeze out the last of the air.

Unfortunately in their enthusiasm the souvenir collectors got a little carried away and many parts of the balloon were removed.  The balloon will go into a museum which is being specially built in Moscow and we really would like some of the missing parts to complete the collection.  Of particular importance is the valve mechanism from the top of the balloon and the solar panels.  These have absolutely no monetary value or use but are obviously of great importance to Fedor.

If the people in possession of these parts would contact us we will collect them from you and provide you with large pieces of the balloon fabric personally signed and endorsed by Fedor Konyukhov.  Alternatively if you wish to remain anonymous please drop these parts outside the  Northam Airport aero club.   The solar panels and valve are of enormous personal value to the pilot and the RTW project team and your help with their return would be sincerely appreciated.

Cheers

John Wallington – Round the world flight project coordinator in Australia

61 418 60 60 29

 



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22.07.2016

Where will he land?

Morton FCC ( Flight Control Centre) is currently working overtime to prepare for final phase of Fedor's RTW Balloon flight.

Details

Morton FCC ( Flight Control Centre) is currently working overtime to prepare for final phase of Fedor's RTW Balloon flight. 

Latest update shows that Fedor is approximately at 1800 km from Australian coastal line. 

It is impossible to predict where exactly Fedor will land, but here in Northem WA, all possible scenarios being considered.

Tomorrow at 06:00 23rd of July 2016, Media and the ground crew planning to leave Northam airfield and will fly to meet and escort Fedor's balloon, which will be approaching Western Australia near Albany, according to our predictions.

You can follow the balloon’s path here: https://my.yb.tl/RRTW2016

You can also view the route map at www.iridium360.ru

The official website for the project “Around the world in a Roziere balloon “Morton” can be found at a flyfedor.ru

  



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22.07.2016

Balloon MORTON on its way to Australia

24 hours ago at around 01:00 UTC 21st Fedor flew into very severe thunderstorm activity. He was at around 8,500 metres with the tops well above him and unreachable at night on the burners. Fedor had made the decision to cross the low pressure system on the best forecasting available so the intensity of the activity was an unwelcome surprise.

Details

24 hours ago at around 01:00 UTC 21st Fedor flew into very severe thunderstorm activity.  He was at around 8,500 metres with the tops well above him and unreachable at night on the burners.  Fedor had made the decision to cross the low pressure system on the best forecasting available so the intensity of the activity was an unwelcome surprise.  Surrounded by nonstop electrical activity and towering cumulonimbus clouds with 60 to 90 knot (ref windyty.com) sea surface winds over the southern ocean is not a balloonist’s preferred position.  We discussed the situation with the very helpful staff at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority as Fedor tracked through the conditions.  The tension at the control room was extreme - and we had our feet safely on the ground!

A combination of factors has meant Fedor has had no gondola heat for the last day and a half. All his water is frozen and needs to be thawed by using the main burner.  Adequate hydration is essential for many reasons including avoiding frost bite.  Some equipment particularly with touchscreens has failed in the extreme cold.

As I write this Fedor’s balloon is doing exactly as predicted by David Dehenauw and after reaching 60 degrees south is now heading for Western Australia at 220kph.  It is no time to relax as a frontal system still needs to be crossed although the weather should be well below his level.  We are currently working with Air Traffic Control in Melbourne because, as remote as he is a Qantas jet will fly nearby in a few hours.  The support and flexibility of Air Traffic Controllers through the entire flight has been really appreciated.

On approaching the coast, hopefully in the early hours of Saturday the plan is to descend to get out of the flow that otherwise would miss Australia to the south.  The balloon should then track inland passing the take off longitude and possibly setting a new around the world by balloon speed record.  In the control room this is the first time we have considered the record. Just achieving a safe outcome has been the focus.

Excitement is rising.

John Wallington

Flight coordinator. Northam, Western Australia.  

You can follow the balloon’s path here: https://my.yb.tl/RRTW2016

You can also view the route map at www.iridium360.ru

The official website for the project “Around the world in a Roziere balloon “Morton” can be found at a flyfedor.ru

 



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21.07.2016

Update from the Southern Ocean. 21 July

Fedor is overflying Southern Ocean. He is in strong polar jet stream flow that pushes him down towards Antarctica.

Details

Fedor is overflying Southern Ocean. He is in strong polar jet stream flow that pushes him down towards Antarctica.

"As the sun went down, balloon left its ceiling and started to descent. It is getting dark pretty soon as I am close to polar region where polar night in full mode. It is scary to be so down South and away from civilization.  This place feels very lonely and remote. No land, no planes, no ships. Just thick layer of cyclonic clouds below me and dark horizon on the east. Good thing I manage to start the burner's pilot lights - I will burn all night keeping the balloon above 7500 meters. Still struggling with the heater which gave up at this attitude. Now tracking 140-145. Forecast shows another 4-5 hours of this track - I will reach 60 Latitude South. This will be the coldest night since the start. It will be great news for me when track shift east".

Best regards, pilot Fedor Konyukhov. Balloon RA2900G

Some data from on board satellite tracker Yellow Box:

Max altitude: 10.614 meters

Average altitude 7.397 meters

Max speed 240 km/hour

Average speed during the flight: 128 km/hour

Distance traveled 28.670 kilometres

You can follow the balloon’s path here: https://my.yb.tl/RRTW2016

You can also view the route map at www.iridium360.ru

The official website for the project “Around the world in a Roziere balloon “Morton” can be found at a flyfedor.ru



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21.07.2016

Past The Cape of Good Hope. Morton balloon is over Indian ocean

Fedor is on the final leg home but relaxing at this stage is not an option. The morning started with significant valving of helium as it is heated by the sun. This has been necessary for the last few days as fuel is consumed and the system becomes lighter.

Details

Fedor is on the final leg home but relaxing at this stage is not an option.  The morning started with significant valving of helium as it is heated by the sun.  This has been necessary for the last few days as fuel is consumed and the system becomes lighter.  Without losing some of the helium the balloon would climb to a height which would be unsafe for the pilot even though he is breathing oxygen which is stored as liquid in a 100 liter tank.  

In the afternoon with the balloon settled to a ‘comfortable’ cruising level around 8,500 metres Fedor, with very precise advice from the Cameron Balloons engineers was able to de-ice the three frozen pilots lights and get all burners working again.  This will be essential as in a few hours’ time the balloon will catch up with a severe low pressure system which Fedor will have to jump over. 

To quote our weather advisor David Dehenauw: «Fedor is approaching frontal conditions and will stay with it as the front is aligned with the jet stream. Fedor can stay at current flight level (8000 meters) till 05-06 UTC, it should keep him above most of the clouds but be vigilant for Cumulonimbus tops that could be higher. From 5-6 UTC on, go to 8500-9000 meters (30 000 feet). From 10 to 16 UTC a minimum of 9000 (FL300) will be required as we come near the core of the low. After 17 UTC, things will be improving again and you can gradually drop to 8500 m».

Crossing the low pressure system will take around 24 hours, require a continuous altitude around 9,000 metres and take the balloon as far as 65 degrees south before swinging north to Australia. Steve Fossett faced similar conditions in the latter part of his successful RTW flight although the jet stream was further north on that occasion.

In Fedor’s own words he is in ‘survival mode’.

You can follow the balloon’s path here: https://my.yb.tl/RRTW2016

You can also view the route map at www.iridium360.ru

The official website for the project “Around the world in a Roziere balloon “Morton” can be found at a flyfedor.ru



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