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Pilot celebrates his ‘once in a lifetime’ flight that will never be repeated

No-one has attempted to replicate this flight since.
  • In 1999, Brian Jones was one of two pilots on a record-breaking flight
  • They used a balloon to travel for 19 days and 45,000 kilometers
  • They took off from the UK and landed in Egypt

Published on Mar 22, 2024 at 1:21PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Mar 22, 2024 at 4:35PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Tom Wood

A pilot from Somerset in the UK once completed one of the most impressive flights ever.

And even now, 25 years later, he recalls every detail of his remarkable trip.

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Speaking to ITV, Brian Jones, who hails from Taunton, a small town 160 miles southwest of London, is an accomplished pilot who once attempted a record-breaking flight around the world.

Jones – one of the pilots on the flight – traveled 19 days and around 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles) on a non-stop balloon flight.

The balloon had been made in Bristol and, because of its size, it had never been tested before the flight.

“I just remember arriving at the launch site, and this huge beautiful shimmering balloon was sitting on the launch site with all the lights shining on the site,” he told ITV.

“It was 56 meters tall and it was just enormous.”

The balloon could fly at 130 knots, or about 240km/h (160mph), which is pretty quick for a balloon of that size, and it eventually took them to Egypt, but it wasn’t easy.

Back then, balloons like this one didn’t really have anything like an autopilot.

“We were very busy, there was constant work because there was no autopilot as such so one pilot had to be physically flying it at all times,” he said.

Balloons were widely used in the early days of flying, but things are different now with most balloons being operated by hobbyists just for fun, and often with no-one on board.

Manned flights on balloons are relatively rare and on the rare occasions they take off, it’s usually for the sort of flight a romantic person might use to propose to their better half.

However, that could be set to change in the future, as right now some companies are working on a balloon that might take us to space.

We’ll have to wait and see what comes of that, though.

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