March 21 – First Non-Stop Trip Around the World – in a Hot Air Balloon!

Posted on March 21, 2014

I have heard that ballooning is a beautiful thing. The world is so lovely from up high (and generally from ground level, too, of course), and everything is so silent. It's supposed to be pretty glorious.

But since the “parachute ride” at Knott's Berry Farm seems terrifyingly high to me, I've never paid big bucks to go a heck of a lot higher in a hot air balloon.

Also, I have never circumnavigated the globe, or even come close. I've flown from California to Hawaii, from California to Vancouver, Canada, and from California to Brussels, Belgium, but most of my explorations have been by car, bounded to the one continent I was born on.

So it is hard for me to imagine what the Swiss and English balloonists, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, experienced in March 1999.

I can tell you the facts:

On the first of March, Piccard and Jones set off from Switzerland in their bright red egg-shaped capsule dangling below a really large silver and blue balloon. Their enclosed egg measured 16 feet long and 7 feet in diameter. The balloonists took advantage of the jet streams to travel around the globe. Finally, after almost 20 full days of traveling more than 28 thousand miles (45 thousand km), they landed in Egypt. 

Today is the anniversary of that landing.

Those are the facts...But what did their trip feel like?

I can't help wondering: 

What did they see? 

How high up were they? How thin was the air (and did they have to bring their own oxygen, like astronauts)? 

Did one of them have to be awake at all times, to steer the balloon or keep an eye on electronic equipment or...? 

Warning: These two books are
the same book, just different titles
and publishers.
How much did they get to move about during those 20 days, given the fact that their capsule was only 16 feet long?

If you, too, wonder about long hot-air balloon trips, you could check out Piccard / Jones's book about the feat.

Also on this date:

Mexican President Benito Juarez's birthday 

Plan ahead:

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