Seven months until the Round the World launch and counting
In mid-December 2015, Fedor Konyukhov will travel to Cameron Balloons to assess yet another stage of the manufacturing the MORTON GROUP record-breaking attempt balloon and in June of 2016 Fedor Konyukhov will attempt to fly solo and non-stop around the world in a balloon.
Fedor Konyukhov explains, that the idea to fly around the world in a balloon first came to him in 1992. “I was stationed at a base camp of Mt. Everest, preparing to climb the summit, when I heard talk of a flight, the year before over Mt. Everest by balloon. Since that time I’ve been working towards my dream to fly around the world in a balloon. I have worked on this project for the last 23 years.” The main sponsor for the project is MORTON GROUP, who are leaders in large-scale residential construction in Russia. MORTONS GROUPS’ support and sponsorship has been instrumental in making this dream a reality.
As of today, there have been only two successful circumnavigations by balloon. In March of 1999 Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones flew around the world on the Breitling Orbiter 3. The flight lasted almost 20 days (19 days, 21 hours, 55 minutes). This was their third attempt. The two-man team chose to fly in the Northern Hemisphere taking off in the Swiss Alps and landing in Egypt, covering a distance of 40 thousand kilometres.
In June of 2002, an American pilot Steven Fossett undertook his sixth attempt to fly The Spirit of Freedom around the world. This turned out to be a successful flight, which lasted 13 days, 8 hours and 33 minutes. Steve Fossett chose to fly in the Southern Hemisphere, taking off and landing in Australia, flying a distance of 33 thousand kilometres.
Breitling Orbiter 3 and The Spirit of Freedom were both designed and manufactured by British company Cameron Balloons. Naturally, this was the only company that Fedor Konyukhov and his team trusted to build a balloon that would be fit to fly around the world in 2016. It has been thirteen years since the American solo flight around the world. During these years, technology, materials, and equipment for ballooning has made significant advances and improvements. Fedor Konyukhov will rely on many of these new innovations. However, as the legendary aviator, Don Cameron Managing Director, Cameron Balloons noted, ‘to circumnavigate the world on a first attempt, will be by far, one of the biggest achievements in the history of lighter-than-air flight.’
The MORTON GROUP balloon is expected to reach top speeds of 300 km/hour (Steve Fossett’s record speed was 320 km/hour).
During the flight Fedor Konyukhov will only be able to sleep in short periods of 30-45 minutes, in total just 4 hours in a 24 hour period. Periodically, he will have to; send data to mission control, eat, keep warm, complete navigation tasks, check fuel calculations, read instruments and change fuel tanks as they are used as well as clear ice from equipment. Fedor’s work will be performed often at altitudes of 5000 to10,000 metres, at a speed of 100-200 km/hr and at temperatures of around negative 40 degrees Celsius.
The envelope is a Cameron Balloons Rozière design, it combines the advantages of helium and hot air technologies to create a balloon capable of extended flights. A large cell of helium is placed within a specially designed hot-air balloon. Six hot-air burners warm the helium at night, while a system of insulation and vents reduce the effect of solar-heating during the day. The result is a balloon that remains at a fairly constant altitude, conserving helium and making it possible to remain aloft for lengthy periods. The propane gas will fuel the six hot-air burners for up to 20 days. The cylinders will be mounted along each sides of the gondola. The balloon will carry 34 cylinders, each weighing nearly 200kg. As the majority of the flight will be over the ocean, the gondola must also have life raft features - should an emergency landing on water be required. The gondola, or capsule, is made from carbon fibre material, with two keels at the bottom, one ‘bubble’ hatch, and one lookout window. The gondola interior will waste no weight on luxury and will seem sparse. The main elements for the gondola are Fedor’s navigation and instrument flight deck and a sleeping bench, food rations, water and as he will be at a cruising altitude of about 5 thousand metres an oxygen supply is also crucial. Fedor will wear an oxygen mask, similar to the one he used during his two summit climbs of Mt. Everest. In fact, in order to acclimatize his body to the high altitudes he will spend a couple of weeks in one of Mt. Everest’s base camps at an elevation of 5 thousand metres. From the Himalayas, he will then fly straight to Northam, Australia where he will receive the MORTON GROUP balloon delivered from the UK by the packaging and delivery company DHL.
The flight around the world will symbolize the collaborative spirit among many specialists from different countries. The main sponsorship and equipment is of Russian origin; designing and manufacturing provided by the UK; the autopilot is supplied from Holland; a meteorologist from Belgium has agreed to join the team; consultants from the UK, USA and Australia are providing expertise in regards to preparing the balloon for flight, maintaining the balloon aloft and of course, the start and finish will be in Australia.
The flight will launch from the Southern Hemisphere: Australia and fly over the Tasman Sea - New Zealand - Pacific Ocean - South America (Chile and Argentina) - the Falkland Islands - the Atlantic Ocean - Africa (South Africa, Cape of Good Hope) - the Indian Ocean - finally landing back in Australia.
The total distance of the flight is expected to be 33-35 thousand kilometres.
The total volume of the MORTON GROUP balloon is 18,000 cubic meters; the height of the entire craft when inflated is 56 meters and will weigh approximately 10 tons at the start - nearly half of which will be fuel. GLONASS will provide GPS services. Helium and propane will be supplied by Gazprom.
Proud Sponsors & Partners of the Round the World Balloon Flight 2016:
MORTON GROUP – Main sponsor of the project
DHL – transportation logistics partner
NEW TOYOTA HILUX – land transportation partner
LENOVO – official IT partner
RED FOX – technical equipment and clothing partner
FORWARD – technical equipment and clothing partner
Fedor Konyukhov Press Contact : Oscar Konyukhov +7 (925) 771 29 91 firstname.lastname@example.org