Andy Elson - adventure engineering


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Andy (minus space-suit) on the QinetiQ flight platform

Andy Elson - Engineered for Adventure

Andy has flown  to over 40,000 feet by balloon more times than anyone else.

In 1991 he was the first balloonist to fly over Mount Everest.

Throughout the 1990s he designed and built the capsules for all the international attempts to be the first to fly a balloon around the world (except for Richard Branson's). His customers included the Swiss Breitling team and Steve Fossett.

In 1998 flying the Breitling Orbiter 2 he set a new world endurance record for any aircraft flying within the Earth's atmosphere, of 9 days.

In 1999 he broke the world endurance record for any non-stop sub-orbital flying machine when he flew Cable & Wireless more than 12,000 miles from Spain to the Pacific in 18 days. For this he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club (previously only awarded 40 times to such pioneers as Louis Bleriot, the Wright Brothers, Alcock and Brown, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins).

In 2002 he completed cosmonaut training in Moscow.

In 2003 he attempted to launch QinetiQ 1, the biggest balloon in history, from a research ship off St Ives. He failed (unfortunately not everything works first time). He also carried out extensive development on a revolutionary solar powered unmanned aerial vehicle which has since become the main European UAV for defence development.

In 2004 he designed and built - in Britain - a capsule to carry five astronauts to the international space station. This was not publicised due to contractual terms. Suffice to say “another very satisfied customer”.

In 2005 he designed and built a pressurized capsule and balloon to carry Air Commodore Vijaypat Singhania to the current world hot air balloon altitude record of 70,000 feet above Mumbai.  




Dave preparing for the QinetiQ 1 launch

Dave on the deck of RV Triton preparing for the QinetiQ 1 Edge of Space launch.

Dave Boxall - Engineer with Altitude

Dave is an aeronautical engineer and former Technical Director of Cameron Balloons. He designed the envelopes of both successful around-the-world balloons, Breitling Orbiter III and Steve Fossett’s “Bud Light Spirit of Freedom”. Dave worked with Andy on the Breitling I and II projects and left Cameron Balloons to join him on the QinetiQ 1 "Edge of Space" project in 2003. Dave has played a key role in all Andy's projects since.

 Dave is an experienced aviator; he qualified as the youngest balloon pilot in the UK in 1982 and has won several competitions, including the longest balloon flight in the UK and a cross-channel balloon race. He has piloted paragliders and hang-gliders and is building his own aeroplane. He specialises in balloon systems and high altitude life-support.