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.
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.