First circumnavigation of the world by balloon.

March 21st, 1999 at 6:00 GMT, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones successfully landed in the Egyptian desert, after traveling 45’755km in 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes, thus achieving the longest flight in the history of aviation for both distance and duration. The balloonists took off from Chateau-d’Oex, Switzerland, on March 1st, 1999.

Many teams had already attempted this seemingly impossible flight and with each attempt records were broken and valuable experience added to the melting pot.

The ‘Breitling Orbiter’ claimed outright distance and endurance records for balloons and demonstrated what can be achieved with a good team of engineers, meteorologists, diplomatic political negotiations and a two plucky pilots who showed admirable determination, trust, courage and skill.

Brian Jones said,”  It was an extraordinary relationship. After the flight Bertrand said to the press, “We took off as pilots, flew as friends and landed as brothers.” A lot of our competitors said, “Oh, that’s horrible.” But it was pretty much true. We left our egos in the car park, and that was key. We talked things out, respected each other and were prepared to put our lives in the other’s hands. For the whole 20 days, we never had a cross word, never argued once — ever. I got really pissy with people on the ground, including my wife, but never with Bertrand.”

 

Some key facts about the round-the-world flight:

  • Duration of the flight: 19 days 21 hours 55 minutes
  • Maximum altitude reached: 11’755 metres
  • Maximum speed attained: 240 Km/h
  • Distance covered: 45’755 kilometres
  • Ratified distance: 40,814 kilometres
  • Number of countries crossed: 26 countries
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