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Hot-Air Balloon High-Altitude Record Attempt

Fedor Konyukhov is to attempt another, balloon world-record, a hot-air adventure, high up in the Stratosphere and he has chosen Cameron Balloons as his balloon manufacturer once again.

by Hannah Cameron

Hot-Air Balloon High-Altitude Record Attempt

After three successful, non-stop, round-the-world balloons built by Cameron Balloons; the first in 1999 sponsored by Breitling, the second in 2002 flown solo by Steve Fossett and most recently a 56metre tall balloon flown in 2016 by Fedor Konyukhov, whose solo, magnificent flight, around-the-world took just 11 days, 8 hours and 32 minutes.

Cameron Balloons is now more than half-way through the build of a high-altitude balloon for a new world-record attempt with Adventurer, Fedor Konyukhov.

The High Altitude Balloon – Fast Facts

The balloon envelope will be the largest, hot-air balloon EVER built.
It will be a Cameron Balloons Z-3,500,000 hot-air envelope, with a volume of 3.5million cubic feet.
The envelope will stand over 62metres tall, will be about 61metres at its widest point & will need over 8,000 metres (8km) of fabric to build it.

The Aim of the High Altitude Record-Breaking Attempt Project

Fedor’s aim is to fly higher than the current world-record held by Indian Businessman Vijaypat Singhania, who in November 2005 flew to an astonishing altitude of 21,027m (68,986 ft) in a Cameron Balloons 1.6million cubic foot, Z-1600, hot-air balloon - over Mumbai, India. VJ broke all previous world-records, landing successfully and safely, a few hours later.

It is Fedor’s wish to fly high enough to see the curvature of the earth and to look out at the "inky-blackness of the cosmos" - which can be observed from altitudes of about 35,000metres / 114,800feet. (This has been a dream of his, since Fedor was a young boy.)

Fedor's Non-Stop Round the World flight ended with 2 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records:
The World Record Fastest Round The World Flight
The World Record Longest Solo Flight

And very deservedly Fedor Konyukhov was also awarded The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Pilot of the Year 2016

Cameron Balloons is now more than half-way through the build of a high-altitude, record-breaking, solo, hot-air balloon flight for Fedor Konyukhov.

With any big record-breaking project, Sponsors are at the very heart of it and Fedor is delighted to be sponsored by GAZPROM and St Luke's Foundation who are supporting Fedor in his latest incredible record-breaking flight attempt.

GAZPROM are part of the world’s biggest global energy companies, they are also very familiar with ballooning and the work we do here at Cameron Balloons - as we are delighted to say we have already made them a balloon which is both encouraging and inspiring consumer engagement when tethering and flying at events in Russia –  GAZPROM'S mission is to ensure a reliable, efficient and balanced supply of natural gas and other energy resources to consumers.

The high altitude balloon is to be built by Cameron Balloons in Bristol, the world's experts in lighter-than-air flight.

The high altitude balloon is to be built by Cameron Balloons in Bristol, the world's experts in lighter-than-air flight. 

To give you an idea of the scale of this project (and a quick guide through the layers of atmosphere into space)…

Fedor will fly through the Troposphere and into the Stratosphere…
The Troposphere is the ‘layer’ nearest the ground and is 5 to 9 miles (8 to14 kilometres) thick - depending on where you are on Earth. (It is thinner at the North and South Pole.) This section of the earth’s atmosphere has the air we breathe and the majority of the ‘weather’ clouds and is made up of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen with the last 1% comprising of argon, water vapour and carbon dioxide. The air is densest in this lowest layer holding three-quarters of the mass of our entire atmosphere.

Above the Troposphere layer is the Stratosphere, the layer that Fedor intends to fly within. This layer of our atmosphere also has its own set of layers. There are no storms or turbulence here to mix up the air, so cold, heavy air sinks to the bottom and 'warmer', lighter air remains at the ‘top’. The total opposite of how the ‘layers’ work in the Troposphere. The Stratosphere ‘layer’ is about 22 miles or 35 kilometres thick and contains the important ozone layer. The ozone layer’s main ‘job’ is to absorb the majority of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Fedor intends to fly nearly four times higher than Mount Everest’s summit peak which stands at 8,848metres/29,028 feet (Everest’s summit is the world’s highest elevation above sea level).

Additionally, there is also a layer where Auroras happen, the Ionosphere, where gases, with charged ion particles that have been affected by the Earth and Sun’s magnetic fields can be clearly observed glowing and shimmering in ‘waves’ of light, most usually around the poles visible against the long dark winter skies.

The next layer, although also too high for our project, is known as Mesosphere and is about 22miles or 35kilometres thick and is the place where meteor showers or shooting stars burn-up across the sky as they whizz through this layer with the effect of friction of air, creating enormous heat and light that can be seen from the ground.

The Thermosphere layer lies in between the Mesosphere and the edge of space and temperatures in this layer can reach up to 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit / 2,482 degrees Celsius although if you could be in that environment you would be very cold because there aren’t enough gas molecules to transfer the heat to you. This also means there aren’t enough molecules for any sound to travel through either. This layer of Earth’s atmosphere is about 319 miles or 513 kilometres thick, much thicker than the inner layers of the atmosphere, but not as thick as the exosphere. The thermosphere is also home to the International Space Station as it orbits Earth as well as other low Earth orbit satellites.

Lastly, there is the Exosphere, the very edge of our atmosphere, the next area would be outer space. This layer is about 6,200 miles or 10,000 kilometres) thick. That’s almost as wide as Earth itself. The Exosphere is enormous and contains some gases including hydrogen and helium, but the molecules are very spread out with a lot of empty space in between and it’s very cold.

Timescales for the project… well, so far, we have had very productive meetings with the Konyukhov’s and Fedor has informed us that he would like to attempt the high altitude hot-air balloon record flight attempt in 2018 – but like all our other big projects; sponsors-wishes, bespoke product design & development, extensive testing, specialist pilot training, funding-streams, meteorology and even impeccable weather conditions – all play important parts in final timescales - but now at October 2018, we are delighted to say we are more than half way there.

For further information and updates please see our facebook pages at Cameron Balloons Ltd where we will be updating regularly on progress.

Adventurer Fedor Konyukhov -
Project Sponsor GAZPROM -