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.
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.
On July 18 at 11:30 (UTC) the MORTON balloon and its pilot, Fedor Konyukhov, completed the crossing of the Pacific Ocean from continent (Australia) to continent (South America). Fedor Konyukhov became the second pilot in history to cross the Pacific Ocean solo nonstop in a balloon.
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.
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.
DHL Express is the official logistics partner of the ‘Round the world roziere balloon flight’ project undertaken by prominent Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov. As logistics partner, DHL provided delivery of equipment for the flight, including balloon gondola.
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.