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May 2014 magazine cover
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(Carolyn Russo, NASM)

First Around the World

For balloonists Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, the end of one journey marked the beginning of another.

Sights from Above

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(Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones)

Piccard improvised a window-cleaning tool from an HF radio antenna, to which he affixed a sponge, attached to a telescoping boat hook. Throughout the flight, both men reported seeing glorious sunrises and sunsets through the portholes. The next time they stepped outside the gondola, eight days later, they were over the Pacific Ocean. Piccard wrote about the experience, “We brought the balloon down to 6,000 feet, and below us the Pacific lay totally calm…when we climbed out through the top hatch for a few moments we sat there awestruck by the utter silence —no cry of a bird, not the slightest sound of wind or sea.”

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