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Russian Balloonist Sets Record For Fastest World Solo Nonstop

Image: Russian Balloonist Sets Record For Fastest World Solo Nonstop
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By    |   Monday, 25 Jul 2016 11:32 AM

A Russian balloonist set a record by flying solo around the world nonstop in 11 days.

Fedor Konyukhov, 65, landed in the Australian Outback, 100 miles east of Northam on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. He began his journey to circumnavigate the globe on July 12.

"He's landed, he's safe, he's sound, he's happy," flight coordinator John Wallington said. "It's just amazing."

Konyukhov, a Russian Orthodox priest, beat the record of American businessman Steve Fossett, who made the 20,500-mile trip in 13 days, 8 hours in 2002. Konyukhov started from the same place but took a longer route (21,100 miles) and finished in 11 day, 6 hours, the AP said.

Along the way, Konyukhov reached speeds up to 150 miles per hour and heights up to 34,823 feet. He encountered a thunderstorm in the Antarctic Circle, and failure of the gondola heating on Thursday required him to thaw his drinking water with the hot air burner. Konyukhov's balloon is 184 feet tall supporting a carbon box 6 feet, 7 inches high, and 5 feet, 11 inches wide.

Konyukhov flew from Australia to above New Zealand, the Pacific Ocean, South America, the Cape of Good Hope and the Southern Ocean. When a jet stream pushed him toward Antarctica, he said it was "scary to be so down south and away from civilization. This place feels very lonely and remote. No land, no planes, no ships," BBC reported.

On his return, Konyukhov flew directly over his starting point, which fellow aviator Dick Smith called "incredible," according to Reuters.

"After going 34,000 kilometers around the world he crossed the runway where he took off from," Smith said. "That's never happened before. It was mainly luck and it's just unbelievable."

Smith was the first to fly solo around the world by helicopter, completing the journey in 1983.

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A Russian balloonist set a record by flying solo around the world nonstop in 11 days.
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2016-32-25
Monday, 25 Jul 2016 11:32 AM
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