The Flight

The First circumnavigation of the Earth by balloon.

Statistics of the flight of Breitling Orbiter 3:

  • Take-off:   0805hrs UTC on Monday 1st March 1999.
  • Landing:    0600hrs UTC on Sunday 21st March 1999.

    Note.  The total flight duration from take-off to landing was 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes.   The world record allocated to us was 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes because we ‘bounced’ when we first hit the ground on our landing attempt and came to a halt when we contacted the ground again 8 minutes later.

    This duration remains history’s longest flight within the earth’s atmosphere in any form of flying machine.
  • Distance:   we travelled a total of 46,666 kilometres, the furthest flight in history within the earth’s atmosphere by any type of flying machine.

    Note.  The world record allocated to us was a distance of 40,814 kms, this is because the recording rules dictate that the distance should be measured as a direct line from the point of take-off to that of the landing following a great circle route.   The balloon’s direction is controlled by Mother Nature rather than it’s pilots and she tends not to conform to man-made rules!
  • Altitude:  The maximum altitude achieved on the final night of the flight was 11,737 metres (38,507 ft).   This was a world record altitude for a ‘Roziere’ balloon.
  • Speed:  The fastest speed recorded was over the Sahara desert in the final days of the flight at 123 knots (142 mph).   Quite fast for a balloon!
The photo gallery can be accessed here.