Russian explorer Fedor Konyukhov looks set take the title for the Fastest circumnavigation by balloon solo after completing an epic round-the-world journey in a helium and hot air balloon on Sunday.
After a year’s preparation, the brave adventurer set off from Northam in Western Australia on 12 July and landed near the small town of Bonnie Rock in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt after 11 days of flight.
The pre-planned route for the journey saw the 65-year-old – who is also a Russian orthodox priest – travel more than 34,000km.
The current record is held by the late Steve Fossett (USA) who (also taking off and landing in Australia) circled the globe in 13 days 8 hr 33 min in Bud Light Spirit of Freedom from 19 Jun to 2 Jul 2002 an historic feat that is also recognised by Guinness World Records as the First balloon circumnavigation (solo).
Konyukhov, who barely slept during the entirety of his journey, circled the globe inside a 2m³ box made of carbon-fibre, suspended from a 56m (184ft) balloon and had to battle antarctic winds and temperatures down to -56C.
Guinness World Records is currently awaiting ratification from the FAI (world air sports federation) of the attempt in order to be able to officially confirm a new record for Konyukhov.
“He just thought it would be a really nice thing to do," attempt flight coordinator John Wallington explained following Konyukhov's safe landing. "Breaking a record is a nice bonus, but the objective was just to fly around the world.”
Konyukhov's achievement is the latest in a long list of amazing feats accomplished during the course of his extraordinary exploring career which include climbing Mount Everest and traveling to the North and South poles on foot.
Here is a timeline of some of the adventuring records and feats accomplished by arguably Russia's greatest explorer:
1988: Konyukhov makes the first ever crossing to the North Pole solo and without any support.
1995: The experienced traveller then treks to the South Pole on his own, completely unassisted.
1992-7: Konyukhov becomes the third person to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, which involves reaching the North and South Pole and climbing the Seven Summits.
2002: Sets the Fastest solo row across the Atlantic east to west ("Trade-Winds I" route) in a classic ocean-rowing world record in a time of just 46 days and 4 hours after rowing from San Sebastián, La Gomera, Canary Islands, to Port St Charles, Barbados. The journey, which took place between from 16 October to 1 December 2002, was made in the 6.9-m (22.6-ft) fibreglass Uralaz, which weighed 650 kg (1,433 lb) when fully loaded and featured solar panels, a gas cooker, a water still and navigation equipment.
2012: With a team of people, Konyukhov completes the Seven Summits challenge in honour of the 20th anniversary of the first Russian ascent of Mount Everest.
2013-4: Sets First solo row non-stop across the Pacific Ocean from mainland South America to mainland Australia world record – Departing from Concón in Chile on 22 Dec 2013 on board the lightweight, fibreglass Tourgoyak, Konyukhov rowed 11,898 km (7,393 mi) to land at Mooloolaba in Queensland, Australia, on 31 May 2014., Konyukhov takes just 159 days 16 hr 58 min to complete the challenging journey.