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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Storms beat balloonist Fossett
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.

An exhausted Mr Fossett called off the flight of Solo Spirit due to gathering thunderstorms over the Atlantic Ocean.

We thought it was just going to be some isolated thunderstorms and it turned out to be a minefield of thunderstorms and I thought my life was at risk all day long

Steve Fossett

The balloon, which was also hit by technical problems, landed in fields near the city of Bage, close to Brazil's border with Uruguay.

Emerging after a 13-day flight, the millionaire said he felt "pretty good" despite minor bruises and scrapes.

Bumpy landing

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

Solo Spirit lands in Brazil
Mission control feared a sea rescue would have to be launched
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.

The landing itself proved hazardous as the Solo Spirit failed to deflate properly.

"One key element of the balloon system didn't work and that's the red line to deflate the balloon," Mr Fossett said.

"I couldn't break open the panel of the red line, so I was just dragging.

"I dragged for about a mile, bouncing along."

Fifth time unlucky

Mr Fossett set off from Australia on 5 August and his journey broke the endurance record for a solo balloonist set last year.
Steve Fossett, June 2001
Asked why he flew, Mr Fossett said it was his "spirit of adventure"

By Thursday evening, Mr Fossett had travelled more than 19,300 km (12,000miles).

That makes the balloon flight the second longest ever, the longest solo flight on record and the longest flight in an unpressurised gondola.

This was his fifth solo balloon flight since February 1995.

On that occasion, he became the first balloonist to fly single-handedly across the Pacific.

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

The BBC's Ben McCarthy reports
"It was a safe but unscheduled landing"
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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