French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne has set out on the first ever solo attempt to cross the North Pole in a hot-air balloon.
He lifted-off in favourable weather conditions from the tip of Norway’s Spitzbergen archipelago.
Etienne had to be roused from his sleep early in the morning as the team’s weather expert feared there would only be a short window of opportunity for the take-off. It went without a hitch.
The 3,500 kilometre journey will take him over the North Pole to Alaska and it is expected to take him between seven and 10 days.
Before leaving, Jean-Louis Etienne told reporters:
“It feels like going back to my childhood, looking forward to a fantastic trip. Crossing the North Pole in a balloon. It is something I dreamt of doing as a child. And now I have fulfilled my dream.”