Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Well done Pauline

AN Irishwoman has survived a terrifying balloon flight to set a new world record.

Pauline Baker (40), above, who received her pilot's licence only three years ago, completed a 22km balloon flight between northern Italy and Austria, beating the previous female world record of 18km.

During the flight, the property consultant, from Trim, Co Meath, was showered with burning fabric particles when her burner flame went sideways rather than upwards. She also had to cope with a rapid descent due to poor weather conditions, but managed to land safely with minor bruising on a slope near the village of Sillian in Austria.

"The world records are not easy to beat. I burnt a lot of panels in the balloon and got severe turbulence," said Pauline.

Since arriving in Northern Italy on January 4, she has also broken two other world records. She stayed in the air for three hours 36 minutes during a flight on January 7, which broke the previous record of two hours 40 mins.

Her custom-made balloons, sponsored by Sean's Bar in Athlone, do not have the traditional aviator's basket due to the need to keep the weight down. Instead there is an aluminium frame which leaves her hanging below the balloon on the hazardous flights.

Pauline already holds two world records from last year and is now aiming to break a further five world records before she returns to Ireland on January 30. This would establish her as the best female hot air balloon pilot in the world.


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