Russian Adventurer Sets Off on Around-the-World Hot Air Balloon Quest
He set off from Australia on July 12, and on Friday entered New Zealand air space: "We've created a two-hour virtual bubble or 'reservation area' around the balloon,” Airways New Zealand chief operating officer Pauline Lamb said in a statement. “We will protect this with our normal airspace separation procedures which means all other aircraft will be directed to fly around the reservation area.”
Konyukhov's son, Oscar, described the launch as perfect, but told Australia's ABC News that there is much more to come.
“Now we will have another stress because every minute something might happen. He is just flying into the unknown with custom-made equipment...it's all experimental,” he said.
Konyukhov's planned trajectory from Australia is across the Pacific Ocean, to South America through Chile and Argentina, then across the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa and the Indian Ocean, before returning to Australia.
To beat the record, he will have to complete the feat in less than 13 days and 12 hours, the time it took Steve Fossett—an American who set many aviation records before he died in a plane crash in 2007—to circle the globe in 2002.