Endurance balloonist reaches for new world record

A Canadian extreme balloonist, Dr Sandra Rolfe, recently completed another long-haul hot air balloon flight in an attempt to break an endurance record for an AX-04 craft.

She took off near Plantagenet, Ontario, at sunrise on the 13th January, landing seven hours and twenty-five minutes later just south of Mirabel Airport, Montreal. During the flight, she reached a height of 1,500 feet.

Provided that the Fédérational Aéronautique Internationale recognizes the flight, she will have secured her third hot air ballooning world record. Rolfe also holds twenty-eight Canadian hot air balloon records.

In the world of ballooning, many world records are divided across gender lines. This means that there are two records, one for male balloonists and one for female pilots, as well as overall ones.

Currently, Richard L. Jaworski holds the general AX-04 endurance world record. The American pilot set it in 2007 by staying in the air for 23 hours and 11 minutes, which shattered his own previous record of 13 hours and 12 minutes.

It can take several months for world records to be verified and confirmed. However, those involved in this latest record attempt are confident that the record will stand.

Bill Whelan from Sandown, Ontario, built the AX-04 balloon that was used for the attempt, which was more than five storeys high. He also acted as the project manager. The attempt involved a core team of eleven people with backup provided by several others back at base. Mary Lalonde acted as the official observer for the flight.

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