Breaking The Records
Trans Pacific Crossing
15th-17th January 1991
Distance: 10,817.6 km (6,761 miles)
Duration: 46 hours and 15 minutes
Having conquered the Atlantic in a hot air balloon in such a spectacular way, the next Richard and Per challenge would be crossing the Pacific which was twice the distance. Whilst the Atlantic crossing was in the summer, the Pacific had to be conquered in the winter due to the nature of the jetstream.
The first attempt was planned for November/December 1989 but during the launch the giant envelope froze to the ground and when inflated ripped open cancelling the flight. Since manufacturing the envelope took 4 to 5 months the next attempt was scheduled for November/December 1990 but the launch team had to wait until the middle of January 1991 until the correct weather pattern was established in the Pacific. In the very early hours of January 15th the worlds biggest hot air balloon lifted off its launch pad in Miyakonogo in Southern Japan and in less than an hour of flying it was in the centre of the Pacific jetstream travelling at speeds over 200 knots.
The target for the flight was Northern California but half way between the dateline and the US coast the jet stream changed its track delivering the balloon to the arctic wasteland of Canada landing 45 hours later in the North West Territories over 200 miles from the nearest road. This was the longest track flown by any balloon ever but the flight was not without drama as this was before satellite navigation and communication. All radio communication was blocked out by solar eruptions for 7 hours and later in the flight a fire broke out on top of the capsule which could only be extinguished by climbing to 41,000 feet starving the fire of oxygen.