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Russian Balloonist Starts Round-The-World Journey In Australia

Russian adventurer Fyodor Konyukhov
Russian adventurer Fyodor Konyukhov

A Russian adventurer launched a helium balloon from the Australian Outback on July 12 in a bid to set a record for flying around the world nonstop in a hot-air balloon.

Fedor Konyukhov launched his 52-meter balloon from the same field outside Northam in Western Australia state where American adventurer Steve Fossett started his circumnavigation of the globe in 2002.

Konyukhov hopes to complete the journey in a cramped gondola in less than the 13 days that Fossett took.

"I like to travel. That's the truth. I was 15 years old when I went on my first adventure. It's my lifestyle," Konyukhov told the broadcaster ABC in Perth.

Konyukhov's previous adventures include sailing around the world, walking to the north and south poles, and climbing Mount Everest.

From Northam, 100 kilometers northeast of Perth, the 1.8-ton balloon is expected to fly east across Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Ocean, Chile, Argentina, the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa, and the Indian Ocean before returning to Australia.

In all, he aims to travel about 31,000 kilometers.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and TASS

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