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Explorer Konyukhov sets off for record-breaking balloon flight

The flight should reach a height of up to 5 kilometers and an average speed of 40-50 kilometers per hour
Fyodor Konyukhov Lev Fedoseyev/TASS
Fyodor Konyukhov
© Lev Fedoseyev/TASS

KIROVSK /Murmansk Region/, March 24. /TASS/. Prominent Russian explorer Fyodor Konyukhov and Ivan Menyaylo, president of the Russian Ballooning Federation, departed from the Murmansk Region in a hot-air balloon toward the Krasnoyarsk Region in an effort to break the world record for the longest flight, according to a TASS reporter.

Konyukhov and his team arrived in Kirovsk earlier this week and have been preparing their hot-air balloon for the challenge ever since. The record-breakers also waited for suitable weather: fair wind and frost, so that the balloon could lift more weight and prolong its flight. Last night, the air temperature dropped to -23 degrees Celsius in Kirovsk.

Ahead of the flight, Konyukhov and Menyaylo told a news conference that the reason they chose Kirovsk as the starting point for their expedition was because it was one of Russia’s northern-and westernmost locations, and the air masses traveling from the West to the East could carry them and their balloon across the country to their destination in the Krasnoyarsk Region. Menyaylo has said it would be romantic to finish their trip somewhere along the Yenisei River.

The two pilots want to canonize their accomplishment by staying in the air without landing for more than 60 hours, covering a distance of 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers. Russia’s largest ever hot-air balloon, PhosAgro, was manufactured for the expedition domestically. The flight should reach a height of up to 5 kilometers and an average speed of 40-50 kilometers per hour. The construction including the basket is 36-meters tall, while the weight at the launch is 5 tons.

Konyukhov is something of a legend in ballooning, holding the world record for the fastest flight around the world in a hot-air balloon. For this achievement, he was awarded the ‘The Pilot of the Year’ honor by the International Federation of Aeronautics (FAI) in 2016. While training for the round-the-world flight, Konyukhov and Menyaylo set two world records, having flown initially for 32 hours and then for 55 hours non-stop in a hot-air balloon.