BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Spanish Portuguese Caribbean
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Americas  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Balloonist clears the Andes
Spirit of Freedom balloon
The balloon floats in cloud, 6,400 metres above Chile
American adventurer Steve Fossett has cleared the heights of the Andes in his Spirit of Freedom balloon.

He will now head out towards the Atlantic Ocean on his way to the half-way point in his latest bid to become the first person to fly solo around the world in a hot-air balloon.


He's getting excited that the flight actually may continue and be a success

Barry Tobias, mission control

His support team said Mr Fossett was beginning to dare to think that this time the voyage might be a success - after five failures.

But just a few hours earlier, Mr Fossett, 58, had to fight a three-hour battle to save his mission after his balloon went into a series of dramatic leaps and dives.

He crossed the Andes at one of the range's low points, where the peaks are only 2,100 to 2,400 metres (7,000-8,000 feet) high.

The balloon is now heading for the Falkland Islands, a distance that would exceed his attempt last year.

Barry Tobias at the mission control centre in St Louis, Missouri, said: "He's getting excited that the flight actually may continue and be a success."

'Yo-yo phenomenon'

Mr Fossett's mission control described his latest encounter as a "yo-yo phenomenon".

It happened when a possible sudden downdraft caused the balloon to plummet in altitude, and his autopilot then overcompensated, sending the balloon dangerously high.

Spirit of Freedom then cooled rapidly and began to dive again at high speed - a cycle repeated for three hours until Mr Fossett managed to stabilise his flight level.

Steve Fossett in his balloon
Mr Fossett has spent much of his journey battling the weather

The multi-millionaire has now travelled more than 14,000 kilometres (8,800 miles) in his bid to become a record-breaker.

The journey has seen him spend much of his time attempting to avoid storms around South America.

On Tuesday he came "perilously close" to smashing into the ocean after attempting to avoid being caught up in storms.

Mr Fossett was also forced to use three gas burners to counter downdrafts during squalls east of New Zealand after his balloon dipped to as low as 120m (400 feet) above the waves.

The balloon left western Australia on 19 June for a round trip that, if successful, will cover about 28,000km (17,000 miles).

Mr Fossett's five earlier solo attempts ended with crash-landings in spots such as the Coral Sea off the north-east coast of Australia and a cattle ranch in Brazil.


Map showing projected flight path of the balloon

Click here to return

See also:

23 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
19 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
10 Oct 01 | England
17 Aug 01 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes