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Images: Cook Beats Egg

For immediate release
April 6 2004


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Mt. Cook Beat The Egg Balloon – But Only Just!

Balloon pilot Rick Walczak successfully flew the incredible Egg Balloon up to and around the pinnacle of Mt Cook (Aoraki) early Saturday morning, just missing the top but cracking two more hot-air ballooning records in the process.

During its third remarkable flight in as many months, a new New Zealand record for altitude was achieved – a staggering13,500 ft.

“We also broke the New Zealand high speed record of 72.8 km/h,” says Rick Walczak.

The giant, six-storey high hot-air balloon, bearing the message “an egg a day – OK!” around its girth, scrambled up the treacherous sides of the 3755m (12,800 ft.) high mountain, its flight path following the ridge up towards the peak of Mt Cook.

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It then veered left over the Tasman, Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers, coming to rest on the Wilczek Glacier at the end of Gallery River.

Executive Officer of Eggs Incorporated, Peter High, says this flight caps off a truly extraordinary series of achievements for the egg balloon.

“The balloon has conquered crossings of the rugged Tararua Ranges, Mt Taranaki, and now New Zealand’s tallest and most dangerous mountain, all within the first few months of 2004,” he says.

“No other hot-air balloon or balloonist has ever ventured across any of these mountains before, let alone all three in succession.”

Rick Walczak says his preparation flights over the Tararua Ranges then Mt. Taranaki were all part of the training, information gathering, and build-up for the big one.

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“Although we had enough fuel on board for four hours’ flying time, the flight took us two hours 33 minutes. “

The radiant heat from the balloon’s burners kept the crew warm.

The Mt. Cook National Park encompasses 70, 000 hectares, of which one third is snow covered all year round. Nineteen peaks stretch above 3,000 metres with Mt. Cook standing at 3755m (12,800 feet).

“We had the best view imaginable!” says Rick. “Flying conditions were perfect – we couldn’t have asked for a better day. We landed on a glacier – ironically it happened to be called Wilczek Glacier - a total coincidence!

“As with our previous flights, we used the latest satellite imagery that came direct to our laptops, giving us up to the minute weather information which my co-pilot and tactician fed me constantly.”

Peter High says, “Rick and the egg balloon are an enduring success story. We are thrilled with this latest achievements and confident that the balloon will continue to take the egg a day message to the skies above New Zealand.”

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.


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Prepared on behalf of Eggs Incorporated by Publicis Drum

About Eggs Incorporated: 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.

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