Balloon pilots make history with transPacific flight

first_imgALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An audacious, nearly 7,000-mile-long trip across the Pacific Ocean came to an end Saturday as two accomplished pilots safely touched down in the water just off the coast of Mexico in their helium-filled balloon after shattering two long-standing records.Troy Bradley of Albuquerque and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia landed 4 miles offshore in Baja California about 300 miles north of the popular beach destination of Cabo San Lucas. Initial plans called for a landing on the beach, but the pilots decided to come in low and drop trailing ropes into the ocean to help slow the balloon for a controlled water landing. Mission control in Albuquerque was packed with supporters of the Two Eagles team as the balloon descended, with all eyes focused on a giant screen showing a map of the coast and the balloon’s location. It wasn’t until the crowd received word that the pilots were safe and aboard a fishing boat headed to the shore that cheers erupted and the cork was popped on a bottle of champagne.“I can say on behalf of the entire mission control center, that we are all very excited and relieved,” mission control director Steve Shope said.last_img

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