An Indian industrialist said today he plans to ride a hot air balloon to a record-setting altitude of 21,300 meters in November this year with the help of two British experts.
“I’m nervous about it because there are many dangers involved,” said Vijaypat Singhania, chairman of the Mumbai-based Raymond Group, at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
Mr Singhania’s balloon will be 65 metres tall, or 12 to 15 times the size of a normal hot air balloon.
Tests are under way to see if it will use propane gas, kerosene or a mixture of the two fuels.
“As far as the dangers are concerned, we are trying to build in measures that will give me warning that this will happen so I can abort,” the 65-year-old adventurer said.
“I may not get my record that way, but I will save my life.”
Andy Elson and Colin Prescot of Flying Pictures Ltd in Somerset, south-west England, are helping Mr Singhania – who is also known as a film producer – by building the pressurised capsule in which he will ride.
“Above 21,336 metres the human body cannot survive without full life support,” Mr Prescot said.
“The air is so thin, it’s on the edge of space, and bodily fluids boil unless there is a proper capsule.”
The capsule, about 1.2 by 2.4 metres in size, will only be just big enough for Mr Singhania to stand up in.
Mr Singhania plans to lift off from Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, and land five hours later in an area some 160 kilometres north-east of the Indian metropolis.