Senior pilot makes hot air balloon flight below ground

Ivan Trifonov, 70, recently piloted his hot air balloon down into the 675ft Mamet Cave in Croatia.

The daring flight took a total of 25 minutes, and was completed in a special balloon because there was not enough space, meaning that a standard basket could not be used. Instead, the pilot had to sit on an iron pipe structure, and the envelope of the balloon he was piloting was far smaller than normal. Trifanov spoke of the difficulty in achieving the feat, adding that he believes it is unlikely to be repeated by anybody.

The extraordinary balloon flight has been submitted to Guinness World Records, and it will be Trifinov’s fifth record in the field if successful. He also holds them for ballooning over the North Pole, the South Pole, The Mediterranean Sea and being the first man to stand, dive and fly over the North Pole in a 12-hour period.

Mamet Cave is located in the Velebit National Park. The Croatian National Tourist Board supported the flight in the hope that the publicity surrounding it will make more people aware of the area and encourage them to visit the park.

A decade ago, the cave was the scene for another extraordinary feat when the famous space jumper Felix Baumgartner base jumped into it. His jump was performed in darkness, whereas Trifanov’s flight was partly lit by the balloon’s burners.

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