Two pilots of the Two Eagles Balloon flight made history after flying over the Pacific Ocean. The balloonists landed roughly four miles off Mexico’s Baja peninsula, shortly after passing the previous record held for gas balloon flights.
However, while the duration record was surpassed, the US National Aeronautic Association and FAI will make the final determination if a new record has in fact been set. This requires a long review and documentation process that will take weeks, if not months to complete.
Officials with Two Eagles Balloon stated this morning that Troy Bradley, 50 years old from the United States and Leonid Tiukhtyaev, aged 58 from Russia had landed safely and that a recovery team was on their way to recover them.
The two balloonists began their journey in Saga, Japan, traveling 6,646 miles that took 160 hours and 37 minutes. The prior record involved a gas balloon flight that covered 5,209 miles while lasting 137 hours and 5 minutes so while a review has to be completed to make the new record official, it is apparent that the two pilots pulled off an amazing feat.
The previous record was set by the Double Eagle V in 1981. Prior to that record, the Double Eagle II set the record in 1978.
The Two Eagles balloon, which was powered by helium, measures 140-feet tall and 90-feet in diameter. Initially, the flight plan consisted of flying into British Columbia Canada before finally landing in the United States, making their Mexico drop much further.
However, last Wednesday, the pilots came into a high pressure ridge that made the state of California the driest on record for the month of January. To maintain their northerly course but also avoid the ridge, the two would have had to bring the balloon down to about 30,000 feet, which is considered a very dangerous risk. Therefore, the pilots moved into a different direction that took them into Mexico.
While making their descent, the balloon gently skimmed the surface of the ocean while the pilots used thick trailing ropes to bring speed down. Finally, they were able to make a flawless controlled landing on the water.