On 26 November 2005 Dr.Vijaypat Singhania broke the world altitude recode for hot air balloons after reaching 68,986 feet in Mumbai, India.
Cameron Balloons built him a 1.6 million cu ft balloon and he flew in a sophisticated pressurized gondola built by Andy Elson and the Flying Pictures engineering team in Glastonbury, England.
The unusual burners used kerosene rather than the more conventional propane fuel. After landing the balloon envelope was released and then flew on its own for a further eight hours before landing. It was later found near a village, the burner had been stripped and much of the envelope was missing!
It was on this day 16 November 1959 that American balloonist Joe Kittinger made the first high altitude jump. As part of the Execlsior 1 test programme they wanted to test the first ‘space suit’ and because there wasn’t a plane that could fly that high an enormous balloon took Kittinger to 76,400 feet from where he jumped.
He landed safely and the next year he jumped from 102,800ft – a record which stood until Felix Baumgartner jumped from 128,000ft in 2012 and his record was broken by Google executive Alan Eustace in 2014 by parachuting from 135,890ft. ( Story in WIRED magazine)
Joe Kittinger triumphed again in 1984 by becoming the first pilot to fly a balloon solo across the Atlantic. He died aged 94.