RUSSIAN Adventurer Fedor Konyukhov now has John Wallington in his corner, helping the campaign for his hot air balloon circumnavigation of the world.
Wallington was the first man to cross Australia in a hot air balloon, which he completed with Dick Smith in 1993.
He has become the right hand man for Konyukhov, arranging his clearance in the airspace and helping to guide him from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.
Konyukhov is en route to Africa and is expected to cross the continent in just 12 hours.
He has overcome severe weather conditions to cross South America, despite tough weather forcing him to fly lower.
He is currently travelling at an altitude of 8000m.
“Weather conditions at the moment are minus 40C,” Wallington said.
“There’s a lot of ice on the balloon, the gondola, and the burners at the moment.”
The Russian is expected to cross the Cape of Good Hope in the next day or so.
Wallington said the weather was worrying for the balloonist’s support crew who were concerned for his safety.
“We were very concerned when he was in the middle of all that activity (over South America) but were keeping a close eye on things. If it had become excessively dangerous, then there wouldn’t have been an option but to land in the ocean; the capsule of course is designed to float. Fortunately, we weren’t put in that position.
“There was also a lot ice forming on the balloon and it was very cold. There were ice crystals breaking off the balloon and falling down. It was a pretty tough environment.”
Wallington said the air traffic controllers had reacted with admiration and co-operation as Fonyukhov left the control zone, and those working in the control towers wished him well.
Fonyukhov’s son Oscar has been directly texting his father each day while Wallington has been handling media inquiries.