Etienne is off

Published on 05.04.2010 - Generali Arctic Observer

April 5th, 5h09 UT : the big departure

April 5th, 5h09 UT : the big departure

© Jean-Louis Etienne

French doctor/explorer Jean-Louis Etienne has left Spitzberg this morning at 5h09 TU on board of his balloon Generali Arctic Explorer. He should cross the Artic ocean.

After arriving a week ago in Spitzberg, the Generali Arctic Observer team has been hard at work preparing Jean-Louis Etienne's balloon in record time. Saturday evening, the balloonist slept for the first time aboard his gondola and has tested all the onboard equipment.

The take-off of the balloon was foreseen for today afternoon around 2pm. But as the weather conditions were ideal earlier, Jean-Louis Etienne woke up at four and took off two hours later after the tradional farewells to his family and friends who traveled to Spitzberg to attend the big departure (famous football player Zinedine Zidane was present too).

It was 5.09 am TU when the 28 meters high Generali Arctic Observer balloon went up in the sky. No wind, a brillant sunshine and a mild temperature : after years of preparation and a serious setback in 2008 when his airship was destoyed by a windgust in south of France, french doctor/explorer has finally succeeded to settle his 1,2€ million expedition.

He should stay for about a fortnight in the air and depending the direction of the winds, he should land or in Alaska or in Siberia somewhere.

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