Pilots Attempt Record-Breaking Balloon Trip Across Pacific
Pilots try to break records for distance and time in the air.
By EMILY SHAPIRO
January 26, 2015, 2:37 PM
• 3 min read
-- Two pilots are trying to break world ballooning records as they begin a trip across the Pacific Ocean.
American Troy Bradley and Russian Leonid Tiukhtyaev hope to land in North America after about five and a half days in the air, breaking more-than-30-year-old records for distance and time in flight for a gas balloon.
"This is a very coveted record and, hopefully, one that's going to stand for a long, long time," Mission Control Director Steven Shope said.
The explorers took off from Japan Sunday morning in a helium-filled balloon named "Two Eagles," and are now traveling at 15,000 feet in the air.
They will make the dangerous, 5,208-mile trip across the ocean with limited sleep and access to oxygen in a small capsule. Temperatures are expected to be in the 50s.
At such high altitudes come high stakes. Four years ago, ballooners Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis died after hitting bad weather.