I’m still working hard to catch up with some of the big stories that broke while I was away in Mongolia. Most have been covered now, but there was at least one more that I wanted to share. This past weekend, Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov completed an epic round-the-world journey in a hot air balloon, covering some 33,000 km (20,506 miles) while setting a new speed record in the process.
Konyukhov first set out on his journey back on July 12, taking to the air at 7:30 AM local time at a point located just north of Perth, Australia. He touched down just 11 days later in the town of Bonnie Rock, located in Western Australia at about 5:00 PM in the evening.
In completing the journey, the 64-year old Russian becomes just one of four people to successfully circumnavigate the globe in a balloon. He is the second to do so solo. Konyukhov circled the planet in a carbon fiber pod that was not pressurized, as he cruised along at speeds in excess of 150 miles (240 km) per hour, at an altitude that often reached to 30,000 feet (9144 meters). His speed record is two days faster than the previous mark, which was set by Steve Fossett back in 2002.
This latest achievement is just one of many for the Russian, who has scaled Everest twice, climbed the rest of the Seven Summits, and has skied to both the North and South Pole. He has even visited the Pole of Inaccessibility in the Arctic Ocean, and crossed the Pacific Ocean in a rowboat. An accomplished sailor, Konyukhov has sailed around the world four times, a skill that served him well in the balloon too.
Some of the challenges that he faced while flying around the globe in a balloon included bad weather, a frozen valve on his oxygen tanks, and a storm that froze over the balloon, adding enough additional weight that the flight was in serious jeopardy for a time. At one point, he even strayed far enough south that he was nearing Antarctica, just as his onboard heater was struggling to continue working. This put him into “survival mode” as he strayed into serious jeopardy for a time. Thankfully, he was able to overcome all of those obstacles, stay in the air, and still set the new speed record.
Congrats to Fedor on such an impressive accomplishment. Truly a great adventure for the modern age.
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