Native from Wells, Somerset, he began his career as an apprentice at the Rolls Royce Technical College in Filton, Bristol and then went on to study Aeronautical Engineering. During the1980s he became an enthusiastic balloonist. After competing at world-class level, he began to research and develop the survival systems required for high-altitude flights. In 1991, he piloted the world's first hot air balloon flight over Mount Everest.

Andy set a new all-time flight duration record in 1998, and promptly broke it the next year on his Cable and Wireless flight with Colin Prescot, which lasted 17 days, 18 hours and 25 minutes. For this they were each presented with the Royal Aero Club Gold Medal.

Since 1999, Andy has worked with the American adventurer Steve Fossett on his solo attempts to fly a balloon around the world, designing and building the Solo Spirit gondola.

He was pilot and project director of the QinetiQ 1 balloon mission aimed to break the manned world altitude record, along with Colin Prescot. On that effort he was responsible for the design and build of the balloon.

The attempt was originally planned for 2002, but adverse high altitude conditions halted several attempts. In 2003 the launch attempt was aborted due to a failure in the balloon and two years later the project was abandoned.

Related Entries

External Links

Adventure Engineering - Andy Elson website