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20th anniversary of the first round-the-world in balloon with Breitling Orbiter 3

Piccard and Jones took off from the Swiss Alpine village on March 1st, 1999

20 years ago, on March 1st 1999 at 9:09 am, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones took off from the Swiss Alpine village of Château-d’Oex with the Breitling Orbiter 3 to attempt the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight.

Circumnavigating the globe in a balloon was considered as the final great adventure of the 20th Century. Several billionaires such as Richard Branson and Steve Fossett had made unsuccessful attempts. In total, 10 teams tried 21 times to reach this last Grail. Bertrand Piccard himself failed twice in 1997 and 1998 before attempting the third flight with Brian Jones. The balloonists successfully landed in the Egyptian desert on March 21st, after travelling 45’755 km in 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes, thus achieving the longest flight in the history of aviation for both distance and duration.

Some key facts about the round-the-world

Duration of the flight: 19 days 21 hours 47 minutes

Maximum altitude reached: 11’755 meters    

Maximum speed attained: 240 Km/h

Distance covered: 45’755 kilometers

Ratified distance: 40,814 kilometers

Number of countries crossed: 26 countries.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency