CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A cold and exhausted 65-year-old Russian balloonist came back to Earth with a bruising thud in the Australian Outback on Saturday after claiming a new record by flying solo around the world nonstop in 11 days, officials said.
Fedor Konyukhov landed 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Northam, where he started his journey on July 12, about three hours after he flew over the same town on his return, flight coordinator John Wallington said.
"He's landed, he's safe, he's sound, he's happy," Wallington said from the landing site. "It's just amazing."
"It's fantastic — the record's broken, everyone's safe. It's all good," he added.
Konyukhov's gondola — a carbon box 2 meters (6 feet, 7 inches) high, 2 meters long and 1.8 meters (5 feet, 11 inches) wide — bounced twice over 200 meters (yards) in an empty field and tipped on its side before the support crew grabbed it to prevent the deflating balloon from dragging it farther, crew member Steve Griffin said.
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