Saturday, March 20, 1999 Published at 13:26 GMT
Royal tribute flies in for balloonists
Bertrand Piccard (left) with Brian Jones: Ballooning heros
Messages of congratulation are pouring in to the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloonists for making history by circling the globe.
The Anglo-Swiss team crossed an invisible finish line over West Africa just before 1000GMT on Saturday to cheers and champagne-popping from mission control in Geneva.
A special message from Her Royal Highness to balloonists Briton Brian Jones and Swiss co-pilot Bertrand Piccard read: "The news of your splendid achievement has delighted us all.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair also welcomed what he called a "fantastic achievement" - one of the last great aviation challenges.
'A real hero'
And Conservative Party chairman Michael Ancram, who is Mr Jones's constituency MP, called Mr Jones "a real hero of the 20th century".
He said: "The spirit of adventure and the tradition of challenging and extending frontiers are still alive in Britain today and are personified in Brian Jones' triumph.
"He has helped us all to walk a little taller today."
Mr Piccard's father and brother were relieved and excited when news came in of their achievement.
Jacques Piccard said he thought his son, who is a psychiatrist, was looking forward to getting back to work.
"He will return to his medical office and be very glad to start his work again," he said. "But I am sure he will be different. When you achieve something like this, it is something that remains with you forever."
Branson's best wishes
Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, who has made four unsuccessful attempts at the record himself, told Sky News: "They must be feeling incredibly elated and delighted at this stage."
Asked if he was disappointed that he had not broken the record, he said: "We are reasonably good at picking ourselves up and moving to other challenges.
"Fortunately there are plenty of other challenges around at the moment."