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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mid Atlantic and the night started with a relatively good immediate vicinity forecast. Fedor appeared to be clear of some frontal activity and the team was focusing on a strong developing low that may be encountered as the balloon moved into the Indian Ocean the following day.
During the last 24 hours Fedor had to perform a few difficult manoeuvres. Yesterday afternoon the pilot saw large cumulus clouds (cumulonimbus) on the horizon, at the height of 10-11 km, well above the Morton balloon flight level.
Morton balloon has crossed the longitude of 163 degrees east and is currently flying in New Zealand airspace. Last night, the pilot Fedor Konyukhov left the Green continent in the hopes of circumnavigating the globe and returning to welcoming Australian soil.
The 13th of July. Fedor Konyukhov has completed the second set of day light hours flying of his circumnavigation flight. Morton balloon so far has transcended 1650 kilometers, crossed the territory of the State of Western Australia, and is currently flying over the state of South Australia. Fedor Konyukhov is in his second night flying.
Based on weather forecast and recommendation from weather adviser the team have decided to abandon the Saturday morning launch. The conditions remain difficult due to the active cold front. The balloon would travel with it over its entire length till Tasmania, with an important precipitation and icing risk, possibly making the balloon heavier and obliging it to go to lower levels.
According to the data available on 28th of June (12 UTC), there is a weather window for the launch of the "MORTON" balloon on 2nd of July, Saturday. Good trajectories for crossing Australian continent.
The 19th July 2002 is a special date for the international ballooning community: on that day in Northam, Western Australia American pilot Steve Fossett took off on his sixth attempt at completing his solo nonstop fly around the world.
Preparations for the round-the-world balloon flight are in full swing in Northam, West Australia, where local aero club hosts Fedor Konyukhov's crew and the equipment. By the time of our arrival to Northam, gondola and burners were already delivered from the UK by our partner, DHL.
After completing his solo row across the South Pacific Ocean from Chile to Australia in May 2014, Fedor Konyukhov announced that he intends to be back to the Green continent in the summer of 2016 for a quest to fly solo around the world on a Roziere balloon.
Last week in Bristol (UK), a historic event took place. Morton balloon, in which the traveler and pilot Fedor Konyukhov plans to fly around the world, was officially transferred to Morton Company. Handover of the balloon was held with the participation of Don Cameron, the owner of the company-manufacturer Cameron Balloons, and the management of Morton Company - Alexander Ruchiev, the president, and Oleg Kolchenko, the vice-president.
3 of March 2016 Breitling.com held a press conference with Russian adventurer and balloon pilot Fedor Konyukhov celebrating Breitling being appointed as official time-keeper for the Morton Round-the-World balloon flight.
If on January 25, 2016, you happened to be in the vicinity of the small Russian city Kovrov in the Vladimir region, you would not only have been extremely cold in the mid -20 ⁰C, but would have witnessed a low flying hot air balloon. Displaying a bright white, red, and blue checkered design and the B&NBANK logo, the balloon moved slowly eastward, with a small flame from a burner shining as a beacon in the still and cold morning air.
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.
"I have received letter of support from Sir Richard Branson. This is a great news. He always inspired me by his projects in the air, in the ocean, on land. Even he was not always the first to achieve the goal but he was pushing the limits, creating completions, investing into technology, promoting sports".
During his visit to Cameron Balloons at the end of September, Fedor Konyukhov met with the company founder, a legendary pilot and inventor, Don Cameron, and with Alan Noble, who was project manager for most of the world records flying Roziere balloons over the last 20 years.
After almost 20 hours of standing in the gondola of the B&N Bank hot air balloon, Fedor Konyukhov and Ivan Menyalo managed to set a new Russian record for flying an AX-9 balloon. After a day of rest, Fedor Konyukhov was back in the office sharing his experience of flying the B&N Bank hot air balloon with his copilot Ivan Menyalo.
Fedor Konyukhov and Ivan Menyalo took off this early morning at 05:45 AM from frozen river Volga near ancient city Kostroma (350 km east of Moscow). They are trying to set new Russian duration hot air balloon record for AX-9 type.