Albuquerque, NM, Thursday, 1/30/15 8:55 AM MST (1555 UTC))
At 7:29 this morning MST (1429 UTC), the Two Eagles balloon passed the absolute world record for time aloft (duration) for gas balloons of 137 hours, 5 minutes, 50 seconds, set by Double Eagle II on its transatlantic flight in 1978. Under the rules established for the Fédèration Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the international air sports federation, an established record must be beaten by at least 1% of the previous distance. This mark was reached at 30 January 2015, 8:51 AM MST (1551 UTC).
Unlike the propane-fueled hybrid balloons called “Rozieres” that circled the earth in recent years, traditional “straight gas” balloons are the stuff of legend.
As featured in Jules Verne’s, “Around the World in 80 days” old-fashioned ‘gas’ balloons, filled with helium and without the benefit of burners, pit man against the elements at a very basic level…with just bags of sand…and a healthy dash of boldness, as the “fuel”.
The longest distance flight ever made in a “gas” balloon occurred more than a quarter-century ago. In 1981, four men lifted off in their helium filled balloon, Double Eagle V, from Nagashima, Japan and landed three and a half days later in California. They traveled 5,208 miles on the first-ever trans-Pacific flight by a balloon. To this day, that crew still holds the world distance record for all gas balloons.
A team of internationally renowned ballooning experts, including several members of Steve Fossett’s “Spirit of Freedom” global balloon support crew, has built a giant new straight gas balloon and taken up the challenge of capturing the world record.
The pilots Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev plan to navigate their craft more than 6,000 miles. If successful, they will capture the world duration record for gas balloons, set in 1978 by the Double Eagle II on a 5 day flight across the Atlantic.
A lot has changed in the past 30+ years, and the Two Eagles team will use much more sophisticated equipment and meteorological trajectory models than were available to the Double Eagle V crew. These improvements will allow Two Eagles to fly from Japan, across the Pacific, landing perhaps as far as the eastern USA.
Two Eagles Flight Team
The Two Eagles Flight Team consists of two World-renowned balloon pilots, Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev.
At 50, Troy has spent his lifetime in the air. Soloing at age 14, he has logged more than 6,200 hours aloft, and has nearly 60 world ballooning records to his credit.
His many awards include the highest honor placed on balloonists worldwide, the Montgolfiere Diploma, for exceptional achievement in ballooning. He is the first person in history to set records in gas, hot air, and Roziere balloons. (Roziere balloons are hybrid balloons that use both hot air and helium.)
In 1992, he made the first US to Africa balloon flight and set the absolute duration record (6 days) for all types of balloons. In 2002, Troy broke the oldest standing aviation record flying a very tiny gas balloon over 1,200 miles. The previous record of 500 miles stood for 80 years.
Troy owns and operates a commercial balloon company called “Star Trail, Inc. “, and lives with his wife, Tami and their two children in Albuquerque, NM. For more information about Troy Bradley and his accomplishments, please visit his web site: http://www.ballooningbradleys.com
Leonid, 58 years old from Moscow, Russia is a highly accomplished hot air and gas balloon pilot. Flying since 1996, he is the only lighter-than-air pilot in the world to have flown hot air, gas, and Roziere balloons, and hot air, gas, and Roziere airships. He is the President of Balloon Federation of Russia and has participated in many long distance gas balloon races in the United States and Europe including the prestigious America’s Challenge balloon race (Silver medalist on 2012) and the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett (participated in 2010, 2012 and 2014).
Leonid was awarded the Santos-Domont Gold Airship Medal and FAI Gold Badge with three diamonds. Since 2008, Leonid is the undisputed leader of the ballooning project called “Russian Records Factory.” During this time, Leonid has established 8 World Records.
By profession, Leonid is a businessman and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of a major Russian bank. At home, Leonid is the loving grandfather of four grandchildren.
Two Eagles Equipment
The success of this flight depends on diligent planning, a good weather system, piloting expertise, and reliable equipment.
A gas balloon’s fuel is whatever can be considered disposable ballast, generally sand or water. The lighter the system, the more ballast you can carry and the longer you can stay aloft. Thanks to composite construction and other modern light-weight gear, our system will lift off with more than 75% of its weight in disposable ballast – a very high percentage. The entire system is designed with overall simplicity and reliability as the primary goals.
The capsule was built in Albuquerque by Composite Tooling. It is a Kevlar/carbon-fiber composite, giving it tremendous strength at a very light weight (about 220 lbs or 100 kg). It is designed to withstand the impact of a hard landing and provide shelter from whatever inhospitable conditions may be encountered.
The capsule’s interior is 7 feet long, 5 feet high, and 5 feet wide. It is like a closet with a 5 foot ceiling and smaller in area than a king size bed. It is non-pressurized, so the two pilots will have to be on oxygen whenever they are flying above 12,000 feet.
Depending on the weather and flight profile, the balloon will most likely carry about 10,000 lbs. (4,500 kg) of sand. The sand bags are hung on the outside of the capsule and are color coded to aid the pilots in keeping track of sand usage.
For flight status, click here.
For tracking status, click here.
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