YAKUTIA/SIBERIA, April 11, 2010 — Yesterday a 63-years-old French balloon adventurer Jean-Louis Etienne has reached Yakutia’s Arctic Circle and finished his 5-days Generaly Arctic Observer flight expedition done from Norway via the North Pole to Siberia.
In Saturday’s morning he reached the Russian Arctic coast in the area of Yakutia’s Ust-Yansky region. He was expected to land in Tiksi, but the weather (winds and fogs) changed his direction. He was blown eastward to the Ust Yansky region. By that moment he had got pretty tired. The weariness and thick fog on the route to Batagai, the Verkhoyansky region, forced him to land soon in the Northern part of the Yakutian region of Ust Yansky, hundreds kilometers north from the villages of Ust Kujga and Deputatsky.
He spent night in the Arctic nowhere, where temperature at night was below -30 degrees Centigrate.
This morning Jean-Louis Etienne and his balloon equipment was picked up by his support team and brought to Yakutsk by a helicopter.
More info + the video.
In the video you can also the famous Verkhoyansk stone pillars called Kisilyakh.
Here is what he said about Yakutia’s Arctic in his first sattelite interview:
Arrived Saturday morning at 7:40 in Siberia after 121h30 flight and 3130 km covered from Spitzbergen, Jean-Louis Etienne has landed the ball Generali Arctic Observing the middle of the tundra in Yakutia. He was joined by satellite telephone late morning. Excerpts from his press conference …
Jean-Louis Etienne: «It’s a huge satisfaction and relief. Still, there were some tough times during this flight. I began to miss sleep. It was time to put an end to enjoy the flight, which was long and difficult, but so exciting. »
The last hours of flight
«This morning I crossed the vast expanses of Siberia. It is huge. We realize that there are a lot of space on land that is empty. It’s brilliant. I flew this morning at 2000 meters of frozen rivers winding. There is really nothing. In a desert area, where you stop, there are always two or three people around you. There, that’s two hours since I asked and there is still nobody. But I do not know where they might come. These are only expanses of snow, ice and forests and nothing else … »
«The landing is always a stranding. That went well. I wanted to go much further, but I found myself facing a wall of fog so compact. I do not want to go up the other side without knowing where to go. And I was tired. So I decided to ask me fast enough before entering the fog. I was standing vertically. That went well, I was expecting worse. I am now on a very rocky plateau, partly covered with snow. »
The achievement of a first crossing of the Arctic
«The concept of achievement is very personal. Compared to me, I think I went away. When I went to the North Pole solo, I found that I had gone away. I realize that does not push the limits, but they are discovered. When you are involved, we are able to do remarkable things they did not think to do. I’m surprised because it’s true that I have experienced difficult times in the ball. From the beginning, I had to fly low over the Spitzbergen and I almost eat two hills. He then had episodes of fog. I had some fears. Then there was this battle for 15 hours to get closer to the Pole in amazing conditions, with winds ascending and descending steep dents who stopped at 100-150 m of ice. It was impressive and I am surprised that I took with a certain calm. »
What scientific measurements?
«There were two things. On one hand, the automated measurements, atmospheric CO2 and terrestrial magnetism. This is data that I am about to researchers. There was also the CNES photometer to measure the density of particles in the atmosphere. Here, I must say that I’ve done a measure yesterday because it was rare to see the sun. I spent a lot of time without the sun. So a review that I have not done much. But the others were carried out automatically by the devices. »
Is there a risk of wolves, many in the region?
«No, I think wolves should be afraid also lost a place where they are at home, to see the ball struck. It must do more to impress than anything else! Instead, it would please me well to have a little visit to see wolves, reins. »
«The crossing of Spitsbergen on the first day was wonderful. See peaks, immense glaciers. Were exceptional circumstances. There was no wind and no noise. It was a wonderful balcony over nature. Another time I was very impressed when I got a little too close to one of the last hills of Spitzbergen and just behind, I was surprised to hear, not see it because of clouds,? Rocky? sea, the sound of ice blocks them drifting along the coast. You can hear it as a balloon. It was a magical moment that I will not forget. »
Waiting? What to do?
«First I will clean house! When I placed vertically, all the ice of the neck of the balloon fell on me. The house is full of snow. Eastern Siberia is one of the coldest points of the globe. It was -27 ° C this morning! I still have a little food, I have water, heating and I’m going to sleep, sleep, sleep. This is what I miss most today … »
Reaction of Christopher Houver, coordinator of the flight: «It must be emphasized performance. He flew over 120 hours, traveled more than 3100 km in a straight line, more than 3,600 km in total. This flight is a real success. The course was very long on the Arctic Ocean, which was the purpose of the expedition. It was a challenging flight that was conducted perfectly. In these complicated conditions, to live for five days in two square meters, it has proved to be a big man capable of fighting have adapted to circumstances. »
Luke Wertz, meteorologist router: «Flying at low altitude as he has done is very difficult. You must have one eye on the altimeter, another on the course and speed. It was a very dangerous flight, piloting finesse. He did. I think that is the only driver in the world to have flown at that speed, too low for many hours, and more visibility in a really mediocre. It is also not given to everybody to go one shot 300 to 5000 meters, then back down a few hours. It has been severely tested. »
Marie-Christine Lanne, Communications Director of Generali: «On behalf of Generali’s chairman Claude Tendil and our 10 000 employees and Agents, I would like to salute the feat achieved by Jean-Louis Etienne, his determination and courage. I would also like to thank and commend the tremendous work that was done here at home by the team of PC theft. Thank you to Luke Wertz, Christopher Houver, Benoit Llopis Pelard and Jacques have been invaluable in their advice and comfort to us during this journey.»
April 11, 2010: The wait was not too long for Jean-Louis Etienne. After a good night’s sleep, the pilot was joined by his crew in the early morning Sunday. Within hours, the team has deflated the balloon, the folded envelope, parked the car and embarked all on board a large Russian helicopter transport. «I was very tired last night. I fell asleep and woke up eating a little later with the spoon in his mouth! Sunday morning amused Jean-Louis Etienne. I slept like a log, and now I feel better. All equipment was flown in a helicopter MI-8. I’ll be able to restore and recover a little heat. »
With hindsight, Jean-Louis Etienne analyzes the difficulties of such an expedition from his many previous polar experience. «I did a lot of shipping over land or sea difference is that in the air, the slightest problem can be fatal. In the air, there is no respite. If something goes wrong, you can not pause to look at what to do. The analysis must be done fast and quick decision. That makes everything intense air, especially in such circumstances. I experienced tense moments while flying low. I was doing? Radad? 50 knots on the ice. It was very impressive. I was finally able to rest touching terra firma. »
Barely back on earth, the tireless doctor-explorer is already looking towards the future and his next adventure. «I have a project for two years of ocean exploration vessel that has the ability to travel in polar regions. But it is a long-term. I will definitely continue to balloon flying by then. It is an absolutely extraordinary observation device. It flies slowly. There was no wind, no noise. It’s a great balcony overlooking nature.»
The interview was derived from Jean-Louis Etienne Expedition Website. Texts were translated by the Google translation tool, no editing was done.