Explorer Jean-Louis Etienne already has two solo expeditions of the North Pole under his belt. First was his 63 day hike by foot back in 1986. Then in 2002, Etienne drifted alone on the Artic Sea for four months in a specially-designed research pod. Now the determined explorer is planning the third part of his solo Artic exploration “trilogy,” with plans to pilot a helium-air balloon back over the Artic for a 15-20 day adventure.
Using a ship based on the Breitling Orbiter, the first balloon successfully piloted around the world in 1999, Etienne plans to spend his trip raising awareness of the shrinking of the world’s polar ice caps. Along the way the voyager will also be taking a number of scientific measurements, including CO2 levels and readings of the earth’s magnetic field. This is not Etienne’s first attempt to balloon his way across the Arctic. His first try in 2008 ended disastrously when his ship was smashed by high winds.
[UPDATE] Etienne’s journey kicked off earlier this morning, launching from a remote island called Spitzbergen off the Northern Coast of Norway. Let’s wish him luck in his journey.