Cameron Balloons completes largest-ever hot air balloon

Bristol-based manufacturer Cameron Balloons has finished construction of the largest hot air balloon the world has seen so far.

The new balloon has an envelope with a height of 68 metres and a volume of around 99,000 cubic metres, much more than the 3,000 cubic metres of a typical hot air balloon.

The new balloon is intended for Russian balloonist and adventurer Fedor Konyukhov, who set a new record in 2016 for circumnavigating the globe solo in a Rozière balloon (also made by Cameron Balloons), which combines elements from both helium and hot air balloons.

Konyukhov intends to break Vijaypat Singhania’s record for the highest altitude hot air balloon flight, which he set in 2005 after reaching 21,027 metres. Konyukhov is currently attempting to set a new record by rowing around the world, but he is expected to make the high-altitude attempt in the spring.

In the meantime, the balloon will undergo testing. Given that a successful attempt will mean flying far higher than commercial passenger jets, Cameron Balloons has also constructed a pressurised aluminium gondola to go with the balloon. In addition to housing the pilot, this will also carry the technology and fuel needed for the flight.

Konyukhov’s other achievements include crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat in 46 days, circumnavigating Antarctica in a sailboat, and visiting extreme locations like the North Pole, the South Pole, and the northern pole of inaccessibility, which is defined as the point in the Arctic Ocean furthest from any land mass.

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