After six days, 16 hours, and 37 minutes of flying a hot air balloon from Japan to Mexico, the Two Eagles Balloon crew smashed world records and made a “controlled descent to a water landing” off of the Baja Coast near La Poza Grande. Pilots Tony Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev landed safely and their balloon is reported to be in good condition.
The pair took off on the morning of Jan. 25 in Japan and, by Thursday, met their first goal of traveling more than the 5,209 miles set by the Double Eagle V team in 1981, when the first trans-Pacific balloon trip took place. On Saturday morning, Bradley and Tiukhtyaev beat the 137-hour duration set in 1978 by the Double Eagle Crew, which consisted of Ben Abruzzo, Maxi Anderson, and Larry Newman — the first people to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon.
According to the ballooning rules under the Fédèration Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), an established record must be beat by at least 1% of the previous distance. Two Eagles met that distance but it’s up to the National Aeronautic Association and the FAI to determine if they have “broken the record,” a cumbersome process that could take several weeks or months.
Bradley and Tiukhtyaev’s safe landing and successful mission may end the century long debate on long-distance ballooning records.
“The technology has improved so much in the last couple of years. I don’t think there’s going to be any question about the records,” Katie Griggs, a regional director with the nonprofit Balloon Federation of America, told NBC News.