Pilots’ trans-Pacific balloon journey eclipses distance record


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Two balloonists, American Troy Bradley and Russian Leonid Tiukhtyaev, broke the world distance record for longest gas-filled balloon flight after crossing the Pacific Ocean this week. They are scheduled to land in Baja California on Saturday.

The two men left Japan in their helium-filled balloon, the Two Eagles, last Sunday morning. Gas balloons are different from hot air balloons or hybrid Roziere balloons because they use an enclosed chamber of helium gas within the balloon envelope for lift. Gas balloons can be difficult to control and require balloonists to adjust sand or water ballasts in order to ascend or descend.

Bradley and Tiukhtyaev have been mostly living off of fresh fruit, freeze-dried hikers’ meals and beef jerky. They have a small heater and oxygen gas masks on the balloon for protection from the cold temperatures and thin air at high altitudes. The Two Eagles balloon is fitted with monitors and other instruments that allow the balloonists to track their course and weather conditions that could impact their flight.

Bradley and Tiukhtyaev were scheduled to land in Canada, but a change in weather off the western coast of North America blew them on a different path toward Mexico. They aim to use the sand dunes in Baja California as a safe landing site.

The men’s goal was to surpass the current distance record of 5,208 miles set in 1981 and travel approximately 5,260 miles. On Thursday they broke their distance goal while flying a few hundred miles northwest of San Francisco. The two are also set to break the world’s duration record for longest travel time in a gas balloon. The record they are set to beat is 137 hours, 5 minutes and 50 seconds.

1. Helium gas air balloon lifting off the ground
2. Balloon flies from Japan
3. Men eating on balloon
4. Sandbags and gas masks
5. Balloon blown off original path toward Mexico
6. Balloon landing in Mexico

VOICEOVER (in English):

Balloonists break world distance record during trans-Pacific journey.

Two balloonists, Troy Bradley, an American, and Leo htyaev, a Russian, have surpassed the world distance record for gas balloon travel.

Bradley and Tiukhtyaev’s helium-filled air balloon, the Two Eagles, is different from hot air balloons as it relies on an enclosed chamber of gas for lift.

The two set out from Japan last Sunday morning and began their journey across the Pacific Ocean.

The men subsist on freeze-dried hikers’ meals, fresh fruit and beef jerky and have a small heater to protect them from the cold.

Sandbags and other forms of ballast are used to control the balloon’s ascent and descent. The men have oxygen gas masks to wear at high altitudes.

The men originally planned to land in Canada, but wind blew Two Eagles on a path towards Baja California instead.

The men are hoping to land on sand dunes in the Mexican peninsula by Saturday.

Bradley and Tiukhtyaev broke the world distance record for human flight in a gas balloon several hundred miles away from San Francisco, and are now set to also break the record for the longest duration flight in a gas balloon.

SOURCES: BBC, The Gulf Today, Albuquerque Journal, Reuters