24/03/2016 - Andrew Holly
So thats it. All 50 states in 43 days, 3 hours, 39 minutes and 4 seconds.... This mornings flight was amazing after a sleepless night given the microclimates here. The road to the airport this morning was closed due to a brush fire but that delay wasnt an issue. We couldnt get a fan on the island so we used a huge leaf blower and another fabulous advert for the Ultramagic Tekno 50 is that a leaf blower is all you need to get airborne! We had a huge team with people from Parker ranch which surrounds the airport, the guys from the airport who had been fantastic and two timekeepers which Guinness required together with their family and friends. We had to wait for two planes to take off before our slot but at 7:08 we were airborne. Our met balloon (a special Elmo one) proved correct and we launched out towards the west climbing to find perfect steerage and around 1200 ft agl we were heading east. Views across to Mauna Kea - all 13,976ft of this active volcano - were spectacular and pictures just will not do it justice. A short flight before winds pick up and also really difficult not to resist the temptation to go around again... And we were able to land just a few feet from the exact spot we had launched. The airport staff now assume this is normal with balloons and will expect this of anyone who comes out to fly here! Our landing time of 7:29:04 means a duration of just over 43 days to fly in every state, around 17 days less than our initial estimates.
This was only possible with the help of the best of the best in the industry. Louise Moore in our office who apart from masterminding all logistics was still holding the fort as I bounced six weeks of calls and messages to her and simply couldnt have happened without such a strong person as my second in command (actually Im second in command but dont tell her I know that)....! Glen Moyer has been an incredible part of the team, magicking two officials from nowhere on a small island as his last trick... Mike Buckle back in the UK has also been amazing dealing with social media and keeping the website live and updated so you can all see what we are up to. We had the most fantastic help with meteorology from our mystery source who we cant thank publicly but he is an absolute star and gave us confidence for those tricky strategy decisions. My team on the road - John, Jeremy, Kevin, Tony and eve one who has helped with the crew. The list is long and we will publish the full thank yous in due course. And of course Martin, my crew chief who had to head home early but it was him saying yes initially that meant we had the green light to do this! Huge thanks also to our supporters - Josep at Ultramagic is truly inspiring and immediately smiled and said yes when we asked for his support. The whole country now wants to buy a Tekno so hopefully your phone will be ringing! Also Chris and Ben from Renishaw who again immediately said yes when we asked for their support. Thank you guys and all of our supporters for helping make this happen and the thousands of messages of support and viewers for the live tracking :) A great friend messaged me after we finished the 48 and were thinking of Alaska and Hawaii and pointed out the last two states had my name written on it and pointed out the initials... A H... Its been an amazing journey with fabulous experiences, the most amazing global advert for the American ballooning community which is by far the very best in the world and I am so privileged to have been accepted and welcomed by so many people here, I will be sad to head home. That said, just the small matter of the fact we have to drive from anchorage to New York...... !! #50 Hawaii :) #Aloha #flyEVERYstate #Teamwork