New world record set by Russian adventurer

A new world record has been set by Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov, who managed to travel around the world in a hot air balloon in just over 11 days.

Konyukhov set off on his journey on 12th July, with an official launch from Northam, Western Australia. The previous record had been set by the late Steve Fossett, who had completed the journey in 13.5 days in 2002.

Konyukhov’s friend Dick Smith, fellow aviator and businessman, was there to welcome him back as he crossed over Northam, travelling at 60 kilometres an hour and at a height of 6,000 metres.

According to Smith, the Russian explorer had crossed the runway, which he had launched from. Smith added that it was the first time that had happened and was mainly due to good luck. Smith was also on hand to advise Konyukhov about a suitable site for landing.

During the hot air balloon flight, which covered 34,000 kilometres, Konyukhov experienced some difficult conditions, especially in temperatures which dipped as low as -56°C. A report by ABC, a national broadcaster in Australia, explained that the below freezing temperatures caused his drinking water and oxygen mask to freeze up. The balloon continued to operate during electrical storms and also when the heating system failed.

The adventurer kept a blog during his attempt to break the world record, saying in one entry that it was scary to be so far from civilisation. Most people that fly in a hot air balloon, do so for pleasure rather than trying to break world records for travelling around the world.

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