Pressurized Cabin Balloon

This cabin is now on permanent exhibition in the spectacular Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Center at Dulles Airport.  Click here to learn more.

Nott designs & builds the world’s second pressurized cabin for a hot air balloon, & pilots it to 55,134 feet from Longmont, Colorado.
Text and illustration of flight as seen in Rolex advertisement.

From 0 to 55,134 feet in exactly 1 hour 9 minutes and 42 seconds

Nothing inspires a world record holder more than the capture of his world record. It happened to Julian Nott.

Chauncey Dunn soared to 52,000 feet in a hot air balloon, exceeding Nott’s previous record by more than 6,000 feet.

But Julian Nott refused to accept defeat. Working with a team of dedicated experts, he spends months meticulously planning an attempt to regain the record.

To succeed, he would have to pilot his balloon into the atmosphere’s top ten per cent. A barometric desert where freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and virtually nonexistent air pressure pose a constant threat to man and machine.

Every piece of equipment for the ascent was chosen with agonizing attention to detail.

The most advanced technology and latest materials were used. For example, the pressurized cabin was constructed of the very latest composite plastic, saving 80 percent of the weight of conventional materials. One vital piece of Julian Nott’s equipment, however, remained unchanged from his previous ascent. His watch. A Rolex Oyster. “It came under the same close scrutiny as everything else,” remarked Julian, “but, personal preferences aside, its inclusion was never really in doubt.”

At sunrise on a late October morning in Denver, Julian Nott and his hot air balloon, “ICI Innovation,” began their record-breaking ascent. Using his Rolex Oyster to maintain the computer designated optimum climb rate, they rose to 55,134 feet. A new world record.

The world’s top balloonists are now turning their attention to circumnavigating the earth. Julian Nott is one of them. “Of course, the choice of equipment will be crucial for this trip, too,” he says. “But I’ll be very surprised if the first watch to go around the world by balloon isn’t a Rolex.” He smiles. “Even if it’s not mine.”