Around the World in 13 Days: Fedor Konyukhov Attempts to Break Record in Hot-Air Balloon

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(Photo Credit: Briana Shepherd, ABC News)

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Two days ago on July 12th, Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov launched an attempt to break the world record for circumventing the globe in a hot-air balloon.

After postponing last week due to unfavorable weather conditions, Konyukhov took off from Northam Airport in Northam, Australia in his new Roziere balloon, which uses both the technology of a hot-air and gas-powered (Helium) balloon. The flight path shows him scheduled to pass over Tasman Sea, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean, Chile, Argentina, Atlantic Ocean, South Africa, Indian Ocean, and land back in Australia. All of which is intended to take fewer than 13.5 days.

While the balloon carries propane, there will not be enough to cover the 20,506 mile distance. To aid him in his venture, Konyukhov plans to enter the jet stream at heights of up to 10,000 meters, or just over 6 miles. Travelling inside the stream, the balloon will soar at speeds of roughly 120-190 MPH and in temperatures as low as -40 F. These extreme conditions require round-the-clock attention, so Konyukhov will only be allowed to sleep four hours a day, broken into 45 minute intervals.

While he is off to a strong start, Konyukhov’s control crew is open in reminding the public that Steve Fossett, the current record holder with a time of 13.5 days,  endeavored six times before completing his mission. Others have been successful in fewer attempts; however, they were aided by additional pilots and/or balloon manipulation. Participating in a sport dominated by factors outside of human control is one of the great adventures to hot-air ballooning. This is not your everyday commercial flight. This is one man braving fiercely unpredictable conditions, and doing so simply say he did.

In literature, there are five types of conflict characters may face: Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Society, Man vs Technology, and Man vs Self. It’s day three, and already Fedor Konyukhov faces each style of conflict. And he will continue to face them all–with some extras thrown in.

For more information regarding Fedor Konyukov and his day to day progress, visit his website here.

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