Brian Jones - Round the World Balloonist
In this special episode, Andrew talks to an absolute ballooning legend, UK pilot Brian Jones. In 1999, Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard became the first people to fly non-stop around the world in a balloon.
Brian was introduced to ballooning in 1986 and has dedicated his life to the sport. He has logged in excess of 5,000 flying hours.
In 1997 he was invited to assist in the organisation of the Breitling Orbiter 2 around the world project and to advise on the pilot's survival training. He was one of two operations directors in the Communications and Control Centre at Geneva airport whilst the Orbiter 2 was in flight.
In February 1998 he was asked to project manage the design, production and integration of a new balloon capsule with redesigned life-support and flight systems for the Breitling Orbiter 3. He was also responsible for the pilot technical and flight training for these new systems. He was then selected as operating pilot in November 1998.
Brian Jones landed the Breitling Orbiter 3 in Egypt on 21st March 1999, with Bertrand Piccard, having flown for almost 20 days and achieved the first non-stop flight around the world by balloon. During this flight seven world records were set for duration, distance, altitude and speed. The flight remains the longest in terms of both duration and distance flown in the history of aviation.
Documentary about their record breaking flight
Following their flight, Bertrand and Brian co-authored their story in a book entitled The Greatest Adventure which became an International Best Seller.
They also founded the Winds of Hope charitable foundation using the million dollar prize for their achievement, to support and raise awareness of the plight of the world's children suffering in unreported or forgotten circumstances.
Brian is currently working on a project to facilitate the flight training for disabled students with a desire to become balloon pilots. He is an Honorary President of the Swiss disabled flying charity Handiflight, and an ambassador for the British disabled flying charity Aerobility.
For more information about Brian's adventures, visit http://www.orbiterballoon.com