Ballooning across the ocean like camping in the sky Troy Bradley of New Mexico and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia set off from Saga, Japan (AP photos)
Ballooning across the ocean like camping in the sky
Lexile

An international team is piloting the helium-filled, Two Eagles balloon across the Pacific Ocean in an effort to break a pair of major ballooning records.

Balloon pilots Troy Bradley, of Albuquerque, N.M., and Leonid Tiukhtyaev (too-kh-TY'-yev), of Russia, launched from Saga, Japan, early Sunday morning. They're aiming for the shores of North America. It's an attempt that will put them on course to break a distance record of 5,208 miles. The record has stood for more than 30 years.

They're also looking to break the flight-duration record. It was set in 1978. That's when Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman made the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight. That record of 137 hours in the air in a traditional gas balloon is considered the finest of ballooning achievements.

Bradley has likened the journey to a camping trip in the sky. The balloon's capsule is about the size of a large tent. It's 7 feet long, 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall. That leaves the pilots little room to move around. Since they're flying at an altitude of at least 15,000 feet, they wear oxygen masks. And they are bundled up to cope with the 50-degree temperature inside the capsule.

They have sleeping bags and a small onboard heater. The balloon is also equipped with a simple toilet.

The pilots have freeze-dried meals, fresh fruit, beef jerky and energy bars, along with lots of water. They even have a small stove. Because of the altitude and the inability to move around, they don't have large appetites.

Bradley and Tiukhtyaev have been sharing photos of the view from their carbon composite capsule via social media. Some photos show the sun peeking over the Earth's curve. Others show part of the balloon and spotty clouds. The clouds cover an ocean of blue tens of thousands of feet below.

The team has been in constant communication with mission control. Updates on the balloon's location are being posted to social media sites.

The team's exact destination in North America is not known. That's because the location will depend on the winds the balloon encounters along the way. As of earlier this week, the balloon was nearly two-thirds of the way across the ocean. It was traveling 78 mph at an altitude of more than 20,000 feet.

Critical thinking challenge: What it the difference between the two records the team is trying to set. Is one record a bigger achievement than the other?

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COMMENTS (53)
  • JasonM-Ver
    1/30/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    The view would be amazing up there! If you are not afraid of heights, but then you wouldn't have decided to do that in the first place.

  • haleeni-Sch
    1/30/2015 - 03:32 p.m.

    I think that the authors pour pose was to inform and entertain because no one has ever gone that far in a hot air balloon and they want to inform you about what they are doing.

  • bioncawe-Sch
    1/30/2015 - 03:34 p.m.

    I think the author's purpose was that to inform people and tell them what the pilots are doing and to be aware they are going to land in North America.

  • Emanuel-DiB
    1/30/2015 - 10:18 p.m.

    I really like this story this story talk about some reall interesting things whith air ballons it was talking about this ceartin ballon in the air for etc amount of time and how many feet is was traveling

  • allies-4
    1/30/2015 - 10:29 p.m.

    Two international hot air ballooners are traveling across the world in order to break a record. The two are basically camping in the sky for 137 hours. Leonid and Troy are living off of freeze dried meals and are using simple toilet. Their arrival time is unknown. How cold is it at 15,000 feet?

  • BrynnDani
    1/31/2015 - 03:58 p.m.

    This would be such an amazing experience. It would be incredible feeling to break so many long-standing records. And the view from so high up would be breathtaking.

  • MaggieM-3
    1/31/2015 - 05:09 p.m.

    A team of international pilots are setting records for traveling in a hot air balloon as they cross the Pacific Ocean. The balloon took of early sunday morning from Japan, piloted by Troy Bradley from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Leonid Tiukhtyaev from Russia. They plan to land in North America, however the exact destination is undetermined because the winds that blow the ballon will effect the landing spot. The balloon was almost two-thirds of the way at the beginning of this week. The team were flying at seventy-eight miles an hour more than 20,000 feet above sea level. They plan to break the distance record of 5,208 miles and the flight-duration record of 137 hours in a original hot air balloon.
    I think that it is really impressive that science has come as far as to allow people to fly in a ballon powered by hot air across a major ocean. The two men flying are very inspiring and determined, we need more people like them in the world.

  • CameronK-3
    1/31/2015 - 08:11 p.m.

    Two balloon pilots, Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev, are planning to set two major ballooning records. They launched from Saga, Japan on Sunday. They are looking to break the distance record of 5,208 miles, and the record of 137 hours in the air in a traditional gas balloon. The balloon's capsule is seven feet wide, by five feet long, by five feet tall. With and altitude of 15,000 feet, the passengers of the balloon are forced to cope with fifty-degree weather. The pilots have freeze-dried food and lots of water. They have also been sharing their experience through social media. The exact destination in North America is not known due to the winds the balloon will encounter along the way. I find this interesting because it must be so exciting to see the world at such high altitudes.

  • PIan-Cas
    1/31/2015 - 11:59 p.m.

    I think the time in the air record is a bigger achievement than the distance record because it's such a long time to be in the air.

  • AJ_Slater
    2/01/2015 - 11:16 p.m.

    The international balloon team from Russia have been been to break two records. Those records are to travel the farthest anyone one in a balloon has traveled and to stay in air for the longest time. Their course is from Russia to North America traveling at 76 miles per hour and at 20,000 feet. I think that this is really cool and hope that they break both of those records.

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