Thursday, January 29, 2015

U.S.-Russian team sets ballooning record!

Seth Auberon, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly;; The AP, UPDATED
Helium balloon carrying Troy Bradley of US and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia passes over Mt. Fuji after taking off from Saga, Japan. The two pilots landed safely off the coast of Mexico in Baja California early Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 after a nearly 7,000-mile-long trip across the Pacific Ocean that shattered two long-standing ballooning records (Two Eagles Balloon Team).
Two Eagles Balloon Team: Troy Bradley of New Mexico and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia set off from Saga, Japan, shortly before 6:30 am JST Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, on their quest to pilot their helium-filled balloon from Japan in a bid to reach North America and break two major records en route. They want to beat a distance record of 5,208 miles (8,381 km) and a flight-duration record of 137 hours set in 1978 (AP). See:
Balloons over Buddhist P/Bagan, Burma
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - The pilots of a helium-filled balloon on a daring flight across the Pacific Ocean drew closer to North America as they attempt to break two world records.

Accomplished balloon pilots Troy Bradley of Albuquerque and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia are expected to cross into North America sometime Thursday evening and are on course to break a distance record that has stood for more than three decades. They're also looking to break the flight-duration record set in 1978.

They still have a ways to go before completing the journey, however. They are planning to cross over the Canadian Rockies and land somewhere in the northern U.S., possibly Montana or North Dakota, on Saturday morning.

No one has crossed the Pacific Ocean in a gas balloon since 1981. But to break the distance record, the balloonists need exceed the current records by 1 percent to claim a new world record. That means they need to travel 5,260 miles to break the mark.

Another important record is the duration of the flight, set in 1978 when Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman made the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight. That record of 137 hours in the air in a traditional gas balloon is considered the "holy grail" of ballooning achievements. The pilots on the current flight are at about 100 hours. More

Update: SUCCESS!
The Russian and American pilots landed in Mexico 4 miles offshore in Baja California about 300 miles north of the popular beach destination of Cabo San Lucas (AP).

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) - An audacious, nearly 7,000-mile-long trip across the Pacific Ocean came to an end Saturday [Jan. 31] as two accomplished pilots safely touched down in the water just off the coast of Mexico in their helium-filled balloon after shattering two long-standing records. American Troy Bradley of Albuquerque and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia landed 4 miles offshore in Baja California about 300 miles north of the popular beach destination of Cabo San Lucas. Initial plans called for a landing on the beach, but the pilots decided to come in low and drop trailing ropes into the ocean to help slow the balloon for a controlled water landing. Mission control in Albuquerque was packed with supporters of the Two Eagles team as the balloon descended, with all eyes focused on a giant screen showing a map of the coast and the balloon's location. It wasn't until the crowd received word that the pilots were safe and aboard a fishing boat headed to the shore that cheers erupted and the cork was popped on a bottle of champagne. "I can say on behalf of the entire mission control center, that we are all very excited and relieved," mission control director Steve Shope said. Bradley and Tiukhtyaev lifted off from Japan last Sunday morning. More

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