Jean-Louis Etienne balloon update: The landing in Siberia

Posted: Apr 13, 2010 08:22 pm EDT

Landing is always a fall back to Earth, said the French explorer from the ground. On April 10 Jean-Louis Etienne touched down in Sakha in Siberia after flying alone in his rozière balloon across the Arctic Ocean for 121h and 30 minutes reported his website. According to them he covered 3130 km (1956 miles).

The landing

Everything went well with the landing, said Jean-Louis. I had intended to go much further, but I found myself faced with a huge, thick wall of mist. I didn't want to go back up again to cross to the other side without knowing where I was going.

He said he came straight down, but it went well. I was expecting worse.

I feel very satisfied and relieved. There were after all some tricky moments during this flight.

Lack of sleep

On top of the thick wall of mist he was tired, he admitted. I therefore decided to touch down as soon as possible before being surrounded by fog.

He was beginning to feel the effects of not sleeping enough. It was time to bring it to an end to savor this flight, which was long and difficult, but so thrilling.

Discover your limits

Jean-Louis said, I realize that you don't push back the limits, but discover them. When you are determined, you can really do remarkable things that you thought could not be done.

He compared it with land and sea expeditions. The difference is that in the air, the slightest problem can be fatal. In the air you don't get a moment to rest. If something is not right, you can't take a break and think about what can be done. You have to analyze things very quickly and come to a rapid decision.

He said he had some tense moments when he was flying low.

Recovery team

Jean-Louis was waiting for his support team on a rocky plateau in -27°C morning temperature. I've got a little bit of food left. I've got water, heating and I'm going to sleep and then get some more sleep.

On April 11 his recovery team arrived. It took the technical team just a few hours to deflate the balloon, fold it up, stow away the gondola and load everything on board a MI-8 Russian transport helicopter.

Jean-Louis route map (click here).

French explorer, Dr. Jean-Louis Etienne took off on a 3500 km voyage from Longyearbyen on Svalbard to Alaska via the North Pole during the early morning of April 5. He is onboard a hot air and helium balloon. The expedition is due to last between seven and ten days.

He passed close over the North Pole during the night of April 7, but strong winds were blowing him to Siberia instead of Alaska. On April 7 he sailed passed near the North Pole at an altitude of 150 meter in a snowstorm.

Jean-Louis Etienne reached the Pole by pulling a dog sled for 63 days in 1986, and in 2002 drifted for four months on the sea ice in the Polar Observer.

The balloon will be a Rozière type, supported by a combination of helium and hot air, like the Breitling Orbiter balloon used on their round-the-world flight by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones. The nacelle will be specially designed for a Polar flight.

Jean-Louis said, During the flight, I will be taking two types of continuous measurements: the level of CO2 in the atmosphere (for the CEA-CNRS Department of Climate & Environmental Sciences) and the Earths magnetic field (for the Institute of Global Physics-LETI-CEA).

In embarking on this daring adventure, worthy of the novels of Jules Verne, I want to draw the worlds attention to: the shrinking of the Polar sea ice and its impact on the lifestyle of the native peoples of the North; the state of Arctic biodiversity; and the planet-wide climatic chaos that will ensue if the Polar ice disappears. The sea ice is the best indicator we have of the effectiveness of the measures that Man must take to curb global warming.


(click to enlarge)
courtesy Jean-Louis Etienne / Generali Arctic Observer, SOURCE
(click to enlarge)
courtesy Jean-Louis Etienne / Generali Arctic Observer, SOURCE

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