Friday, December 25, 1998 Published at 21:19 GMT
Branson's 'glorious failure'
Richard Branson: "A ridiculous way to spend your Christmas Day"
Richard Branson and his balloon crew are back on dry land in Hawaii after their aborted record attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
Speaking from the ICO Global control centre in Uxbridge, Project Director Mike Kendrick said: "It's a failure, but it's a glorious failure."
The landing was complicated because the capsule containing the men failed to detach itself from the eight-storey balloon and was dragged across the ocean for 15 minutes before the crew could jump to safety.
"It was a ridiculous way to spend your Christmas Day but it was certainly exciting."
From the coastguard base in Hawaii, Fossett said: "I've made three attempts to fly around the world just in 1998.
The project's London flight planners confirmed the splashdown at 1945 GMT on Friday and there were cheers from the control room when it was reported that the crew was safe.
There were no injuries among the crew, who were taken to Barbers Point Coastguard Air Station near Honolulu before being transported to a nearby hospital as a precaution.
The crew's record bid had been foiled after the balloon became caught in a low pressure trough, losing the winds that would have carried them to the west coast of America.
"In the end, a weather problem is what stopped us, but that is the nature of ballooning."
Mr Kendrick said Lindstrand, who built the balloon, was the one chosen to land it.
They were well equipped for almost any eventuality, with a dinghy, a four-man raft, personal safety beacons and shark repellent stored on board the balloon.
During the journey the balloon gained permission to cross the airspace of 97 countries. Only Iran, Iraq, Russia and North Korea refused.