Russian adventurer battled freezing temperatures and crazy winds to break hot-air balloon world record

Fedor Konyukhov Hot Air BalloonPaul Kane/GettyFedor Konyukhov.

Fedor Konyukhov, a 65-year-old Russian adventurer, set a new world record over the weekend, becoming the fastest person to ever circumnavigate the entire globe in a hot-air balloon.

Konyukhov took off from Australia on July 12 in a $2 million balloon. Eleven days later, he emerged from the clouds, having travelled approximately 21,000 miles around the world. His 11-day journey beat the late Steve Fossett’s previous world record by two days.

During his trip, Konyukhov reportedly battled terrible Arctic winds and temperatures as cold as minus-65 degrees Fahrenheit. At one point, his heating system broke. According to The Guardian, his balloon occasionally soared as high as 32,000 feet. He rarely slept, and needed to be hooked up to an oxygen tank throughout. 

“He beat the speed record, the distance record and he will be the first person to fly solo, non-stop around the world from the first attempt,” Konyukhov’s son, Oscar, said Saturday after his father had successfully landed.

Indeed, the landing was the most difficult part of the entire journey. For one thing, landing a balloon the size of a 10-story building is no easy feat — but Konyukhov also had to account for several kilometers of dragging. In other words, there couldn’t be any power lines around. The bumpy landing left him with a bloodied face — nothing he couldn’t handle.

Along with the fastest hot-air balloon circumnavigation, Konyukhov has reached the summit of Mt. Everest twice and travelled through both the North and South Pole. He’s also a Russian Orthodox priest who has, reportedly, written 17 books. 

He is, in other words, perhaps the most interesting man in the world. His next journey will come in 2017, when he plans to travel from Australia, west to east, on a camel. 

Some pictures from Konyukhov’s departure:

And check out footage of his landing below:

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