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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Fossett aborts solo balloon bid
Approximate position of balloon
Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett has landed in southern Brazil after aborting his attempt to become the first person to balloon solo non-stop around the world.

The flight of Solo Spirit had to be called off due to gathering thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.

Steve Fossett's balloon landed on some trees
Fossett landed when the risks just became too great
The ground control team at Washington University in St Louis expressed relief that there was no need to mount a marine rescue operation as the silver balloon had been sighted by aircraft near the city of Bage close to the Uruguay border.

"It comes to a point when even by round-the-world balloonists' standards the risks just became too high," said Mission Control Director Joe Ritchie.

The team is now trying to re-establish radio contact with Solo Spirit after it was cut during land.

Reports said that the balloon was deflated and a small crowd was gathered around it.

The 13-day flight ended at about 1400 GMT on Friday and came a day after Fossett successfully crossed the soaring Andes mountains overcoming strong winds.

He had already passed the half way mark on his journey when the decision was made not to undertake the crossing of the stormy southern Atlantic.

Fossett set off from Australia on 5 August and his journey broke the endurance record for a solo balloonist set last year.

Fifth time unlucky

He had been floating along the border between Uruguay and Brazil when the decision to land was made after consultation with Mission Control.

Solo Spirit balloon
Fossett has already set a new solo ballooning record
By Thursday evening, Fossett had travelled more than 19,300 km (12,000miles), making the balloon flight the second longest ever, the longest solo flight on record and the longest flight in an unpressurised gondola.

This has been his fifth solo balloon flight since February 1995 when he became the first balloonist to fly single-handedly across the Pacific.

A previous attempt to fly solo around the world ended in failure when he was forced to ditch in the South Pacific in August 1998.


 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Linda Duffin reports
"He has set new distance and endurance records"
Steve Fossett
talks about his flight at a press conference
See also:

16 Aug 01 | Americas
Balloonist Fossett crosses Andes
10 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Balloonist passes quarter-way mark
08 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Balloonist crosses international dateline
05 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Solo balloonist soars away
17 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Solo balloonist grounded
16 Aug 98 | Americas
Balloonist ditches into sea
03 Mar 00 | Americas
World balloon record attempt fails
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