On March 20, 1999 Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones soared into history when their balloon, Breitling
Orbiter 3, sped at 130 miles an hour at an altitude of 36,000 feet over an invisible finish line at 9
degrees 27 minutes west longitude in Mauritania in Africa.
After riding the winds for nearly three weeks, the two pilots--Piccard, a 41-year-old Swiss
psychiatrist whose grandfather invented the pressurized capsule for high-altitude ballooning, and Jones, a
veteran British balloonist--took title to being the first balloonists to soar round-the-world
circumnavigating the globe as they re-crossed their departure longitude.
Their balloon journey took them over southern Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean,
Central America and the Atlantic Ocean to their landing in Egypt, near the great pyramids at Giza. The
final tally since their launch from Chateau d'Oex in the Swiss Alps on March 1, 1999 was 19D 21H 47M and
covered a distance of 28,059.32 miles.
Piccard and Jones were greeted with a hero's welcome when they returned to Geneva, Switzerland.
Accomplishing the feat was a test of human courage and ingenuity that won for Piccard and Jones that
elusive and enduring accolade, "First non-stop round-the-world balloon flight."