VILNIUS - Two Lithuanians are hoping to set a new world record this month, flying the Baltic state's largest hot-air balloon to an altitude of 8,848 meters 's the same height as Mt. Everest. Mountain climber Vladas Vitkauskas and hot-air balloon pilot Vytautas Samarinas announced their goal last week, saying that nobody had successfully reached 8,848 meters in a balloon. "Balloonists have been trying to set such a record for years, however, their attempts were not serious. They did not have the necessary equipment and could only reach the altitude of 4-5 kilometers," Samarinas said.
The idea was born after the company KG Group purchased a new hot-air balloon, the largest in Lithuania. The balloon will be used by Vitkauskas and Samarinas to rise to an altitude of over 8 kilometers.
According to Samarinas, thorough technical preparations for the flight, scheduled for later this month, are already underway. Yet something unexpected and unforeseen can always come up, he added.
Two weeks ago, a pilot reportedly flew at an altitude of 7,000 meters, Samarinas pointed out.
Vitkauskas, who is famous for climbing Mt. Everest, said the most difficult part of achieving their goal will be flying at low pressure and freezing air temperatures, which may drop to -50 degrees Celsius. Therefore, Samarinas and Vitkauskas will wear flameproof suits and face masks during their flight. They will also wear oxygen masks.
The two Lithuanians could not specify the date of their planned flight, which claims an entry in the Lithuanian Book of Records, as they must first evaluate weather conditions.
The flight is planned to take about three hours, with the hot-air balloon reaching a speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
Factum agency will observe and register the balloon's altitude with the help of cold-proof video-cameras, global positioning system devices and a barograph measuring altitude by pressure changes.
Lithuania's current altitude record stands at 7,212 meters, set by balloonists Aurimas Vengrys and Vytautas Sviderskis in September.