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Souvenir hunters urged to return parts of Fedor Konyukhov’s hot air balloon

The 65 year old russian adventurer who broke a world hot air balloon record for the fastest circumnavigation of the earth at the weekend has issued a plea to over-enthusiastic supporters who removed parts of the craft from the site after it landed near the small WA town of bonnie rock.

Hundreds of supporters and locals turned up to the landing site to catch a glimpse of the Russian adventurer as he exited his balloon.

Many stayed for hours, taking pictures, playing inside the 52-metre-high balloon itself, helping to squeeze out the last of the air and collecting a souvenir or two.

While the team supporting Mr Konyukhov had always said pieces of the balloon would be given out as souvenirs, it seems some took more than they were expecting. “it was quite a genuinely mistaken thing because the balloon is not going to be reused, but there are parts of the balloon that are quite important to Fedor in terms of his connection to the whole system and obviously to go into the museum in Russia.”

Mr Wallington said Morton, the main sponsor of Mr konyukhov’s journey, was a large building company that now plans to build a museum, where the balloon will go.

He said most of the solar panels that had been taken had already been — or were due to be — returned soon, and now they were looking for the balloon valve.

“i’m sure the folks who souvenired the balloon valve didn’t realise that it’s actually the centre of the aircraft,” he said.
“there’s a couple of titanium rings around the valve that have the registration marks of the balloon on it, and so it’s the legal balloon and of course that is terribly important.”

Mr Wallington said he had put up a post just after lunchtime on Tuesday, and by 6:00pm they had already had several calls.

“it was from people who were really quite embarrassed that they’d genuinely souvenir these parts without realising that they had any value,” he said.

“so we were delighted. And of course anyone who does bring these parts back, or call us, we’ll provide them with parts of the balloon signed by Fedor himself.”