Image: Egg Balloon Conquers Mt Taranaki
26th February 2004
Achieving 2nd World-Record Breaking Flight
“We’ve cracked it!” These were the elated words of hot air balloonist Rick Walczak, who earlier this morning achieved yet another world first when he successfully crossed rugged Mt Taranaki in the Incredible Egg Balloon.
With a balloonist’s prayer on send-off, the giant six-storey high hot air Egg Balloon sailed over the 2,562 metre high mountain reaching an extraordinary altitude of 3,000 metres.
The flight caps off a remarkable few months for Rick and the egg balloon – having only last month smashed the world record for speed – 49.9km/h and long-distance flying with the successful traverse of the Tararua Ranges.
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No balloon has ever previously succeeded in flying over Mt Taranaki and egg aficionado Rick Walczak says he couldn’t think of a more appropriate mountain to conquer.
The plan for the trip was hatched a year before lift-off and thanks to Taranaki Tourism and with Civil Aviation authority approval, the flight lifted off at approximately 7am, landing in a direct line on the other side of the mountain some two and a half hours later.
“We had to be at least 600m above the highest peaks, so we prepared a very detailed flight path to ensure a safe crossing,” Rick says.
“We used the latest satellite imagery, which came direct to our laptops, giving us up to the minute weather information which my co-pilot and tactician fed me constantly.”
Although the Egg Balloon had sufficient fuel on board for over 3 hours’ flying time, the flight took just over 2½ hours due to high speed winds up top – with a flight speed of approximately 30km/h achieved.
“We used approximately 110 litres of propane fuel – and had included a nitrogen mix in the tanks with the propane to give us more grunt, and a faster response time,” he says.
Executive Officer of Eggs Inc. (sponsors of the Egg Balloon) Peter High says, “Rick is the Richard Branson of kiwi ballooning, a fearless adventurer in the sky, cracking one record after another!
“This is yet another world first for New Zealand eggs, close on the heels of winning the world’s top egg marketing award and the successful crossing of the Tararua Ranges in January!”
The giant balloon, which was produced in America, is a rich yolk yellow and features a dozen 3-D boiled eggs around its middle with two huge poached eggs on top.
Prepared on behalf of Eggs Incorporated by
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Eggs Inc. works on behalf of New Zealand's many egg producers to promote the benefits of eggs, encourage positive awareness, and increase egg consumption.