balon klub hrvatska.jpg
Photograph: Balon klub Zagreb (baloni.hr)

Marija Petric-Miklousic, a Croatian aeronaut, president of the Zagreb Balloon Club and member of the national team of hot air balloon pilots, is the first woman aeronaut to fly a solar-powered balloon.

The first recorded flight in a solar-powered balloon took place in the White Sands desert in New Mexico, where more than 70 years ago work started on developing rockets that were later used in the Apollo space programme, the Zagreb Balloon Club said.

"The flight lasted almost three hours and it proved that solar energy is sufficient for flying. This flight is the first step towards entirely green flying. Even though some parts of the balloon have yet to be adjusted to gain full control, years of research by world experts have yielded results," Petric Miklousic told Hina.

The solar balloon 9A-OAEC Aerocene was developed as part of a project by world renowned artist Tomas Saracen who in his art projects has developed the idea of revolutionising both flying and space travel without rocket power and CO2 emissions, the Zagreb Balloon Club said.

The project is aimed at realising the first solar-powered flight around the world and in the long run solar-powered space travel.

The flight in the White Sands desert took place as part of the symposium "Space Without Rockets - Alternatives in Space Travel", held at Texas University - El Paso and attended by the most influential artists, technologists, entrepreneurs and researchers working on developing alternative methods of space travel.

Petric Miklousic is a pioneer in this sport, the first woman balloon navigator in the region and the only Croatian with a licence to fly hot air balloons on her own. She is the first woman to fly over Mount Olympus in Greece in 1999. In 2002 she was the fourth woman balloon pilot in the world and currently holds ninth place.

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