Balloon crew nearing North America matches duration record
Published Friday, January 30, 2015 10:54AM EST Last Updated Friday, January 30, 2015 11:10AM EST
In Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 photo provided by the Two Eagles Balloon Team, Troy Bradley of New Mexico and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia set off from Saga, Japan, shortly before 6:30 a.m. JST Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. (AP / Troy Bradley, Two Eagles Balloon Team)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The pilots of a helium balloon flying across the Pacific Ocean have matched a duration record as they approach North America, marking another historic day for the team that's already surpassed a distance record.
Pilots Troy Bradley of Albuquerque and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia matched the milestone early Friday when they hit 137 hours, 5 minutes and 50 seconds in the air in a traditional gas balloon.
The duration record is considered the "holy grail" of ballooning achievements. It was set in 1978 when Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman made the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight.
To establish a record, international aviation rules require Bradley and Tiukhtyaev to stay aloft 1 percent longer than the current record.
On Thursday, the pilots eclipsed the distance record of 5,209 miles.