Advance Australia Conqueror

In December 1983, Cabinet considered a proposal from the Minister for Industrial Development and Tourism to provide major sponsorship of $400,000 for a non-stop circumnavigation of the earth by manned helium balloon and gondolier, with the launch location to be either Alice Springs or Ayers Rock.

The project, known as the Advance Australia Conqueror project, would involve a specially designed 150,000 cubic foot (4,247.5 cubic metre) helium balloon which would use high altitude jet stream air currents to achieve a non-stop flight of an estimated 16 days duration, covering some 22,500 miles (36,210km). The project would be a media based operation with on-board broadcasting facilities capable of providing daily worldwide audio and visual communication.

The pilot was to be Mr Julian Nott, a British aviator who held several hot air balloon records. The submission noted that a theoretical and practical probability analysis conducted by the World Authority on Atmospheric Research led to a probability assessment for the project in “the high 90s”.

It was suggested that the attempt would provide unique and dramatic advertising and promotional opportunities prior to, during and after the flight, which would attract worldwide media attention. 

Television and print media coverage of the event was estimated at $34 million in value.

It was argued that the sponsorship would provide a unique opportunity for the Northern Territory to achieve international consumer advertising of multi-million dollar proportions.

Cabinet was not persuaded by the proposal, and did not approve the submission.

Read the Cabinet decision - submission number 2838 and decision number 3328 of 20 December 1983 (1.6 mb).

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Last updated: 18 April 2016