When he’s not climbing Everest, skiing to the North and South Pole, or rowing across an ocean, Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov also likes to take flights in hot air balloons. So much so, that back in 2016 he set a speed record for circumnavigating the globe in a balloon, completing that trip in just 11 days. Now, he’s setting his sights even higher, both literally and figuratively.
According to both his website and a story from Explorers Web, Konyukhov is gearing up to have a go at the world record for the highest ever flight aboard a hot air balloon. Right now, he’s aiming to go after that mark in April of 2020, but reportedly is already deep into planning the logistics of the flight. If successful, it would only add to the 67-year old Russian’s already impressive adventure resume.
The current record for the highest altitude ever achieved by a hot air balloon is 21,027 meters (68,986 ft), which was set back in 2005 by Vijaypat Singhania. Fedor hopes to up the ante significantly by taking his own balloon up to 25,000 meters (82,020 ft). As ExWeb is quick to point out, when Felix Baumgartner made his historic skydive a few years back, he flew to 39,000 meters (127,952 ft), but his balloon used helium instead of hot air.
Fedor will make his attempt at the record near the town of Northam in Western Australia. There, he’ll attempt to pilot what will likely be the largest hot-air balloon ever built, with a volume of 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet). In comparison, the balloons that you see flying around on occasion, or you may have even been in yourself, have a volume of roughly 2500 cubic meters (8202 cubic feet). In other words, Konyukhov’s balloon is going to be massive, which is necessary to help counteract the lack of atmosphere that he’ll have at altitude.
The Russian adventurer will fly in the balloon from the after of a pressurized capsule, where he has controls for the hot-air burner and the envelope itself. That capsule is equipped with a parachute for emergency situations and it has enough oxygen onboard to carry Fedor through the entire flight. That is expected to last just a single day.
This is another project we’ll be keeping a close eye on in the weeks ahead. It should be interesting to watch Fedor add to his already legendary status. But, it does make one wonder if he intends to continue rowing around the globe via the Southern Ocean or not. We’ll just have to wait to see.