Monday 18th July 2016 – Round-the-world Balloon Flight, Official Update. Day 6 status report
Fedor Konyukhov - Launched 12th July 07.33 Northam, Near Perth, Australia.
Flying - Morton Russia sponsored, round-the-world, non-stop, solo, balloon flight.
Balloon built by - Cameron Balloons Ltd
Current speed 107.2km/hr
Current altitude 7459 metres / 24,337 feet
Distance flown 15,500 km (1500 km short of the half way point)
Outside Temperature -22°C
Life on board, Fedor Konyukhov’s round-the-world balloon….
Adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has had an busy and challenging last 24-36hours flying in his Morton sponsored, round-the-world balloon.
Fedor has been surrounded by an unstable atmosphere with precipitation in the form of snow and ice.
Fedor decided to lower his altitude to steer away from the very large cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) clouds on his horizon and with information from Project Meteorologist, Professor David Dehenauw and Project Flight Director Oscar Konyukhov, Fedor has been progressing around these very unstable air-masses.
(Fedor’s sailing experience has been invaluable; as he has taken bearings on the cloud he has wanted to avoid and has steered clear of the weather-systems by descending to travel in other wind-layers which have taken him around the worst of the weather.)
Fedor has felt the weather-front strength though, despite these huge clouds being on the horizon. The unstable air buffeted the balloon and made the gondola swing – the turbulence was so severe that to avoid damage and an increased chance of further risk, cylinders that were swinging dangerously had to be jettisoned.
This reduction in weight helped.
Fedor has also had to manage a problem with his oxygen tank system – a valve on the cylinder, designed and built by a specialist oxygen cylinder company has failed.
Fedor had to manually over-ride the tank pressure-relief valve which was not maintaining the contents at a normal working level – the only way that he could do this, in the freezing (-20°C) dark of the night, was by sitting on top of the gondola operating the valve manually.
(The problem has not yet been solved, so Fedor will have to manually adjust the pressure in the liquid oxygen cylinder, which hangs outside, possibly, until the end of the flight which adds to his workload.)
Very helpfully, the solar panels (on the exterior of the gondola) which power the flight-deck instruments are working well, enabling Fedor to retain the as yet unused lithium batteries as a back-up power source.
During the night Fedor also had a burner malfunction which caused some fuel to vent, in an uncontrolled way. This faulty burner has had to be shut off, leaving 5 functioning burners (3 on one side and two on the other). The burner system has been designed for some redundancy and it is hoped that once Fedor can descend to de-ice the balloon – he will also be able to complete some maintenance with advice from Cameron Balloons’ Engineer, Pete Johnson, to enable safe and reliable function of burner number 3. once again.
Ice is the pressing problem now – the whole balloon system is covered with ice. Above-zero air temperatures is at about 2500 metres above the ocean surface. Descending, is not possible (yet) due to cloud cover and the required safe track across the mountains below the balloon. Fedor’s balloon will have to carry the hundreds-of-kilograms of unwanted ice until the balloon is able to descend into warmer air, where it will melt off.
This increased workload of maintenance and monitoring for Fedor, has meant that he has been able only to sleep for three or four, 30minute periods, through the night. Fedor has not been able to relax and eat and is currently snacking on energy bars and drinking water. Hydration and nutrition are essential in such a cold atmosphere (where you can need as much as 6000 to 8000calaries to help keep warm) and we hope soon, that Fedor will be able to rest and eat properly. Fedor has on board a large supply of ready-to-eat meals as used on many of his land based expeditions.
Fedor also has about 50 litres of water left on board for drinking and for use as water ballast if required. (Most people drink about 2 litres a day)
Fedor can easily view landfall now – Chile.
Fedor is being ‘pushed ‘ along with the wind and will cross the mountains at about 7500-8500metres altitude in the vicinity of Mount Acacongua
Oscar Konyukhov, Project Flight Director reports ‘It has been a difficult time for Fedor… flying at altitude during the night, in turbulence and having to complete maintenance all in the extreme cold… but my father is an adventurer and together with us, his team, we are totally focused and determined to work very hard to attempt to break-this world record.’
Don Cameron, Balloon Builder, Launchmaster and part of the Project Control Team explains, ‘Fedor is showing his courage and determination, he has already accomplished a huge achievement in aviation. Fedor is approaching the half way mark too and every mile he does after that, he will be getting nearer his end goal, his family and friends which is a good, positive boost when working hard on a huge flight adventure like this.
Next update 19th July 2016.
Posted first, on our Facebook pages - Search Facebook for Cameron Balloons Ltd
Cameron has agreed and committed to a contract for the construction of a new around-the-world balloon for famous Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov.
"Nobody in the world makes better balloons that the Brits, so our balloon is being made by Cameron Balloons, and it will fly on Russian helium," said Konyukhov.
The balloon is wanted for a launch from Northam in Australia during a specific weather ‘window’ between May to September 2016 period. Cameron Balloons will build a composite gondola which will house the balloon’s control systems, oxygen supplies, flight communication and navigational instruments, a sleeping-bunk, water supplies, food rations, life-saving emergency equipment, first-aid supplies and clothing, all of which will be flown under a Cameron Balloons Roziere-550 helium/hot-air combination balloon.
This is a similar setup of equipment used by the late American Steve Fossett, who also took-off from Northam and made the first solo circumnavigation of the world by balloon in 2002, in just under 15days.
“Fedor and his son Oscar visited the factory in Bristol last year and they will be returning again before the end of 2015 to view the construction process and for Fedor to start his Roziere balloon ground-training with Don Cameron.” Said Sales Director Nick Purvis.
Organiser and Flight Director will be Alan Noble, who previously filled similar roles with Steve Fossett and Breitling during their successful global flights.
Fedor Konyukhov was born near the Black Sea in December 1951, he is married with three grown-up children. He has successfully completed lots of expeditions, over land and over the sea in yachts and has even spent 160days (16,800km) across the Pacific in a row boat! He has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains and trekked in the most inhospitable of environments completing extreme polar expeditions, but he has never adventured before into the air! These amazing feats also seem to provide creative inspiration too as Fedor has published 9 books and painted over 3000 pieces of art.
Fedor started his balloon-training in 2014 and has already with Cameron Balloons’ Russian representative Ivan Menyalo broken the Russian hot-air balloon duration record for the AX-9 (approx. 120thousand cubic foot) sized hot-air balloon flying for over 19hours and 10minutes in well below freezing temperatures.
<< Click here to download Fedor's latest biography >>
Steve Fossett’s world record stands at - Northam, Western Australia to Queensland, Australia. 13 days 12 hours 5 minutes (14 days 19 hours 50 minutes to landing), 20,482.26 statute miles (32,963 kilometres).