Etienne Recovered By His Team

Published on 13.04.2010 - Generali Arctic Observer

Here's the press release from the Generali Flight Control Centre, which announced yesterday (Sunday) that the French doctor/explorer, Jean-Louis Etienne, had been recovered with all his equipment from the middle of Yakutia.

Paris, Generali Flight CC, 11 April 2010: the wait had not been too long for Jean-Louis Etienne. After a good night's sleep, the balloon pilot was joined by his engineering team early Sunday morning. In a few hours, the team had deflated the balloon, folded up the canopy, packed away the gondola and embarked it all aboard a large Russian transport helicopter. "I was very tired yesterday evening. I fell asleep while eating and woke up a little later with a spoon in my mouth", Jean-Louis Etienne mused on the Sunday morning. "I slept like a log and now things are better. All the equipment has been put aboard an MI-8 helicopter. I will be able to have something to eat and find a little warmth once again."

Standing back a little, Jean-Louis Etienne analysed the difficulties of such an expedition in relation to his many previous polar experiences. "I've done quite a few expeditions by land or by sea. The difference is that, in the air, the slightest problem can be fatal. In the air, there's never any respite. If something goes wrong, you can't take a break to see what you have to do. The analysis and the decision have to be quick. That's what makes everything in the air intense, especially in circumstances such as these. I had some tense moments while flying low. I was hurtling over the pack ice at a speed of 50 knots. It was most impressive. I was finally able to rest when I came down on dry land."

Hardly down to earth again, Etienne is already looking towards the future and his next adventures. "I've had a plan for a couple of years now that involves an oceanographical exploration vessel that would be able to navigate the Polar Regions. But that's a long-term plan. I will certainly continue to fly balloons before then. A balloon is a truly extraordinary observation apparatus. You fly slowly. There's no wind, no noise. It's a magnificent balcony on nature."

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