In this pre-New Year time we have decided to tell you about something that occurred in the air above Argentina.
The story is told by Argentine airline pilot Geronimo Grela.
In July 2016 the Russian pilot of the hot air balloon “MORTON”, Fedor Konyuknov found himself in Argentine airspace, passing over the country from West to East as part of a solo circumnavigation. At that moment Fedor had just less than half of his journey behind him. He had traversed the Australian continent and the largest Oceanic leg of his flight – the Pacific Ocean. He had passed over Chile in a matter of 45 minutes, while the Argentine crossing took 9 hours. At that time Argentine pilot Geronimo Grela twice encountered the Russian balloon numbered RA 2900G. He marked it on his map and even photographed it.
Here is how the pilot himself relates the encounter:
“That day I was performing several flights between Mendoza and Rosario, piloting an Embraer 190 for the airline Austral Lineas Aereas. On the first flight, I was flying in the same direction as the Russian balloon. The object caught my attention because what kind of a hot air balloon was this, floating at 8,000 metres altitude and 200 km per hour?
Later, when I took off from Rosario for Salta, the air traffic controllers forbade us from gaining a certain altitude. We were naturally intrigued as to why we were forbidden. After some time on our route, we again spotted Fedor’s silver balloon.
Upon returning home, filled with all kinds of impressions I recorded a track dedicated to our encounters in Argentine airspace. I’ve named the music FEDOR.
I still work at the airline Austral Lineas Aereas, but as an instructor.”
The Argentine pilot recorded his music and sent us a photo of the mid-air encounter. Geronimo also asked us to send some kind of souvenir so that he could have some memento for the occasion.
Fedor Konyukhov sent his colleague a piece of the foil of the hot air balloon lining with his autograph, as well as a card in the theme of his circumnavigatory flight in 2016 and an aeronautical mail envelope. More details can be found here.
These souvenirs were sent from Moscow to Argentina by Fedor Konyukhov’s logistical partner DHL Express Russia.