Russian Orthodox priest starts around-the-world adventure in giant hot air balloon

Adventurer Fedor Konyukhov wants to beat Steve Fossett's record of 13 and a half days.
Alex Wheeler | 12 July 2016
Russian Orthodox priest starts around-the-world adventure in giant hot air balloon
Fedor Konyukhov inspects his craft before lifting off from the Northam Aero Club in NorthamPaul Kane/ Getty Images

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is attempting to fly around the world in a hot air ballon in record time. Lifting off from The Northam Aero Club, western Australia on 12 July, the 64-year-old Orthodox priest was given a warm send off by his wife and children, who watched him depart at sunrise. The Aero Club was used by American aviator Steve Fossett on his 4th solo attempt to fly around the world in a balloon. It took Fossett 13 and a half days – a time that Konyukhov hopes to beat.

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov stands in front of  his balloon while it is inflated  in Northam, Australia (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov stands in front of his balloon while it is inflated in Northam, Australia (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Konyukhov has a long list of expeditions under his belt. He is the only person to have reached the five extreme Poles on earth – the North Pole (three times), the South Pole, the Pole of Inaccessibility in the Arctic Ocean, Alpinists pole (Mount Everest) and he sailed around the world via Cape Horn four times. He has also rowed 9942 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

However, according to his wife, Arina, this particular adventure is his biggest yet. “It was his dream from his youth and, he always says [to] me, one of his most [biggest] dreams and one of the most difficult dreams is to [go] up on air-balloon. So, it’s the main dream of him,” she told Reuters.

Spectators start gathering before sunrise as Fedor Konyukhov prepares to depart at Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Spectators start gathering before sunrise as Fedor Konyukhov prepares to depart at Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Yet Neil Bennett from the Bureau of Meteorology Western Australia said it would be difficult to tell whether Konyukhov would succeed in breaking the record.Konyukhov and his team have been preparing for the flight for almost a year.

Travelling in a Rozière balloon, which was built in Bristol, Konyukhov obtained a temporary balloon pilot certificate to perform flights in Australia.

Supporting him during lift off was Australian entrepreneur and adventurer, Dick Smith. “He would be incredibly excited. He’s climbing at about 500ft per minute, he’s put the burner on, the helium is now being heated by the sun and off he’s going, he may be back here in 14 days’ time,” Smith told Australia’s Nine Network.

Konyukhov plans to fly over New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and back to Australia, travelling 20,505 miles

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off from the Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off from the Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov inspects his craft before lifting off from the Northam Aero Club in NorthamPaul Kane/ Getty Images

Fedor Konyukhov inspects his craft before lifting off from the Northam Aero Club in Northam (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off from the Northam Aero Club in Northam, Australia (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off from the Northam Aero Club in Northam, Australia (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

ussian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov watches his hot air balloon inflate (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov watches his hot air balloon inflate (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is inflated (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is inflated (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Spectators look on as Fedor Konyukhov prepares to depart at Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Spectators look on as Fedor Konyukhov prepares to depart at Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares to depart the Northam Aero Club in Northam (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares to depart the Northam Aero Club in Northam (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov looks on with family members before lift off from the Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov looks on with family members before lift off from the Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov hugs a member of his support staff before lift off (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov hugs a member of his support staff before lift off (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Australian explorer Dick Smith and Fedor Konyukhov, before lift off (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Australian explorer Dick Smith and Fedor Konyukhov, before lift off (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is surrounded by onlookers (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is surrounded by onlookers (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov prepares for lift off (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen after lift off in attempt to break the world record for a solo hot air balloon flight around the globe (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen after lift off in attempt to break the world record for a solo hot air balloon flight around the globe (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov appears in the distance (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov appears in the distance (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen after lift off (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

The balloon of Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is seen after lift off (Oscar Konyukhov/ Reuters)

Fedor Konyukhov lifts off from the Northam Aero Club flanked by other hot air balloons (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov lifts off from the Northam Aero Club flanked by other hot air balloons (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov lifts off from the Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

Fedor Konyukhov lifts off from the Northam Aero Club (Paul Kane/ Getty Images)

 

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