A gas-filled balloon co-piloted by an American and a Russian touched down safely in the waters off Mexico on Saturday (January 31), completing a week-long trans-Pacific flight that unofficially broke two world records.
The balloon carrying Troy Bradley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and his Russian co-pilot Leonid Tiukhtyaev landed near La Poza Grande in the Mexican State of Baja California Sur at 7:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (1300 GMT) after a flight that lasted six days, 16 hours and 37 minutes.
Bradley and Tiukhtyaev, known as the Two Eagles, left Saga in southern Japan on January 25 in their attempt to surpass the world distance record for flying a gas-filled balloon, as well as the record for time in flight. Both records need to be certified before becoming official.
During the balloon's descent, winds turned parallel to the coast, making it more prudent for the pilots to execute a landing in the water, a spokeswoman reported.
The balloon and the two men were picked up by a shrimp boat and later transferred to a Mexican Coast Guard ship which brought them to shore.
The flight surpassed the distance record of 5,209 miles (8,383 km) for gas balloons set on the only previous manned trans-Pacific flight, in 1981. It also topped the flight duration record of 137 hours aloft set in 1978 by a team crossing the Atlantic.
Two organisations, the National Aeronautic Association and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, need to certify the records, a process that can take months, the spokeswoman said.