Russian balloonist Fedor Konyukhov awarded "Fai-Breitling Pilot of the Year 2016 Award"
Lausanne, Switzerland - During a ceremony in Switzerland yesterday
A Russian priest who circumnavigated the world in a balloon in record time has been presented the inaugural "FAI - Breitling Pilot of the Year Award" at a ceremony in Switzerland yesterday, Thursday 17 November 2016. The round-the-world balloonist was given the award in recognition of his historic flight earlier this year, which saw him become only the third balloon team to successfully fly around the world in one flight. In the process he set a new FAI world record, completing the mission in a record time of 268 hours 20 minutes. Fedor Konyukhov travelled to Switzerland from his home in Moscow to receive his award, where he was also given the official FAI Diploma in recognition of his record flight. His flight happened earlier this year, in July. After two years of planning he took off from Northam Airfield in Western Australia on 12 July 2016. He then flew solo around the world for 11 days 4 hours and 20 minutes before landing back almost exactly where he started. In a quirk of meteorology that his team called a “billion-to-one chance”, after travelling 33,521.4km around the Earth Konyukhov literally flew over his original take-off field before landing safely back in Western Australia a few hours later. He survived freezing temperatures, faulty oxygen cylinders and thunderstorms during the flight, which was made in a specially built balloon that was 10-times bigger than a standard balloon. He slept little, in micro-sleeps of a mere minutes or even seconds, and lost 11kg during the voyage. Konyukhov is no stranger to extreme challenges. The Russian adventurer has climbed Everest twice, rowed across the Atlantic and the Pacific, sailed around the world several times, and been to both Poles. An ordained Russian Orthodox priest, he is also a working artist, and well known in his home country. He took up ballooning only two years ago, and is the first person to successfully fly around the world in a balloon at their first attempt. Before he took off on his round-the-world adventure he had logged 250 hours flying balloons. Only three teams have successfully completed a complete circumnavigation of the Earth by balloon. First to do it were aviators Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones. They spent 20 days in the air in March 1999 after launching from Chateau d’Oex in Switzerland. Second, and first to do it solo, was American pilot Steve Fossett. He launched from Northam Airport in Western Australia in June 2002 and spent 13 days aloft before landing back in Queensland in Northern Australia on 3 July 2002. And third was Konyukhov’s flight, which took off on 12 July 2016 and landed on 23 July 2016. He also paid tribute to the late Steve Fossett. Pilot: Fedor Konyukhov, born 12 December 1951 Record: Shortest Time Around the World Take off: Northam Airfield, Western Australia Time and date of take off: 7.33am 12 July 2016 (local time) Time to circumnavigate the globe: 268 hours 20 minutes Landing: Bonnie Rock, Mukinbundin, Western Australia Distance travelled: 33,521.4km Maximum height reached: 10,570m Type of balloon: Cameron R550, Roziere balloon. Unlike a traditional hot air balloon, a Roziere balloon uses a mix of lighter-than-air gas (helium) and gas burners to stay aloft for long periods of time. It is the only type of balloon that can be used for ultra-long distance balloon flights. Previous records: Steve Fossett's solo flight around the world took him 320 hours 33 minutes, and covered 33,195km. Fedor Konyukhov broke this record by 52 hours 13 minutes. See for details AVIONEWS.
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