National Air & Space Museum Site Index
Milestones of Flight Gallery


The sign by the Breitling Orbiter 3 gondola. It reads

First Nonstop Flight Around the World by Balloon

On March 1, 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones lifted off from the Swiss alpine village of Chateau d'Oex in the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon. On March 21, 1999–19 days, 21 hours, and 55 minutes later–they landed in the Egyptian desert after traveling 45,755 kilometers (28,431 miles) and completing the first nonstop flight around the world in a balloon.

The success of Breitling Orbiter 3 was built upon two previous attempts: Breitling Orbiter in 1997 and Breitling Orbiter 2 in 1998. Those experiences enabled the Breitling team to develop trustworthy technical systems and a basic strategy in which Piccard and Jones would pilot their balloon up to altitudes of 11,000 meters (36,000 feet) and to where jet stream winds would drive it at speeds up to 176 kilometers (105 miles) per hour.

Support for this exhibit was provided by Breitling SA and Federal Express Corporation

Length: 5.4 m (17 ft 10 in)
Height: 3.1 m (10 ft 3 in)
Weight, empty: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb)
Fuel: Propane
Manufacturer: Cameron Balloons,
Bristol, England, 1998

The Breitling Orbiter 3 gondola is NASM catalog #A19990257000.

Breitling Orbiter 3 Gondola sign in the Milestones of Flight gallery at the National Air & Space Museum
Time picture taken Tue Jun 19 10:34:24 2007
Location picture taken Second Floor Balcony
Overlooking Milestones of Flight Gallery
National Air & Space Museum
Washington, DC
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