Tag Archives: balloon

Fyodor Konyukhov … an extraordinary adventure

Fyodor Konyukhov … an extraordinary adventure

Fedor Filippovich Konyukhov was born on December 12, 1951. He is a Ukrainian survivalist, traveller, mountaineer, yacht captain and balloon pilot. In December 2010, he was ordained as an Eastern Orthodox priest in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

As a young man Konyukhov attended a nautical school in Odessa and another in Leningrad earning a specialty in polar navigation. Subsequently, he worked as a professional navigator and marine engineer. He served 3 years in the Soviet Navy. He was stationed in a Kaliningrad guardhouse with the Baltic Fleet when he volunteered for a 2 year tour of duty as a Soviet Marine sailing across the South China Sea as special forces delivering munitions to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

As a result of his service in the Soviet Armed Forces, he came to hate the terrible realities of war and completed a vocational arts school in Bobruisk which enabled him to become a successful painter and sculptor. He is a winner of the Gold Medal of the Russian Arts Academy, an Honorary Academician of the Russian Arts Academy and the creator of more than 3,000 paintings. He has participated in a number of Russian and international exhibitions.

In December 2010, he was ordained as an Eastern Orthodox priest in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Most of us would call this a pretty eventful life.

However …

In May 2008, Konyukhov completed a solo circumnavigation of Antarctica in a sailboat, becoming the first person to do so.

In 2013 he became the first priest of the Russian Orthodox Church to successfully climb Mt. Everest. He took the icon of St. Nicholas to the Summit with him.

From December 22, 2013 to May 31, 2014 he rowed across the Pacific Ocean starting in the Chilean port of Concon and finishing in Australian town of Mooloolaba (Sunshine Coast) without entering ports and without any external help or assistance. He covered the distance of more than 17,408 km (9400 nautical miles) on the Turgoyak (K9) rowboat in just 162 days.

On 23 July 2016, Konyukhov became the second person to circumnavigate the world in a hybrid hot-air helium balloon. American Steve Fossett is the only other person to have completed the feat, having done so in 2002 on his sixth attempt. Konyukhov took “just over 11 days”, as opposed to Fossett’s 13 days.

In February 2017 he and fellow professional balloonist, Ivan Menyailo beat the absolute hot air balloon non-stop flight world record of over 50 hours.

He is the only person to have reached such extreme points of the planet as the North Pole (three times), the South Pole, the Pole of Inaccessibility in the Arctic Ocean and the top of Mount Everest (twice) and also sailed around the world via Cape Horn 4 times.

He is the first Russian mountaineer to complete the 7 Summits challenge for which a person must climb the highest mountains of each of the seven major continents.


Two Parachutes … Two Heroes

This is the moment on 14th October 2012 that Austrian Felix Baumgartner leaped into the history books after jumping from a world record 39,045 metres (128,100 ft) or just over 39 kilometres (24 miles). Baumgartner also set the record for the highest manned balloon flight (at the same height) and fastest speed of free fall at 1,342 kilometres per hour (834 mph or Mach 1.24)  making him the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle.Baumgartner was in free fall for 4 minutes and 19 seconds before finally deploying his parachute and landing safely in Eastern New Mexico.

By sheer coincidence, due to the attempt being delayed, he achieved these world records on the self same day that Chuck Yeager became the first pilot to break the sound barrier on October 14th 1947, exactly 65 years ago. On October 14, 2012 on the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, Yeager did it again in a McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle out of Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas at the age of 89.

There is a another true but little known story which again concerns a parachute and an act of amazing act of courage which occured in … 1951.

It concerns the man pictured left. His name was Flight Lieutenant John Alan Quinton. Born in 1921 he was posthumously awarded the George Cross for an act of outstanding bravery where he unselfishly saved a young air cadet whilst losing his own life after the aircraft he was in was involved in a mid-air collision over Yorkshire. The incident happened on the 13th August 1951 

On 13 August 1951 Flight Lieutenant Quinton was a navigator under instruction in a Wellington aircraft (pictured above) which was involved in a mid-air collision with a Martinet aircraft. An Air Training Corps cadet was with him in the rear compartment of the aircraft when the force of the impact caused the Wellington to break up and plunge to earth out of control. Flight Lieutenant Quinton picked up the only parachute he could see, clipped it on to the cadet’s harness, showed him how to pull the rip-cord and ordered him to jump. The cadet landed safely and was the only survivor of the disaster, all the other 8 occupants of the two planes perished. For his selfless action he was awarded the George Cross, the UK’s highest award for bravery by a civilian or a military person where the award of the Victoria Cross is not applicable. In order of precedence, the George Cross is second only to the Victoria Cross.

And finally, for good measure, the picture below of paratrooper training was taken in 1951 in the skies above Fort Benning,USA.