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25 June 2002, 11:25 am
Steve Fossett Is Currently Approaching South America in his Balloon.
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Spirit of Freedom

Sailing Record Holder Takes To The Skies

American adventurer and sailor, Steve Fossett left Perth on June 19 on his 6th attempt to become the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon. This attempt follows swiftly after several World Records Fossett now holds with Playstation.
The most recent of which was taking 3 hours off the Marseille, France to Carthage, Tunisia sailing record in May in his maxicatamaran 'Playstation'. For the full story go to:

World media are awaiting more pictures of the Bud Light Spirit of Freedom balloon and solo pilot Steve Fossett as he approaches South America, with the crossing of the Chilean coast currently scheduled for Wednesday morning, June 26 (U.S. time).

A few hours later, he will face the biggest geographic land feature of his circumnavigation as the balloon has to cross over the Andes Mountains. On the current southern track, Fossett will cross peaks as high as 7000-8000 feet, whereas further north near Santiago, the snow capped ranges present a much higher obstacle.

There has been a virtual media-images blackout of Bud Light Spirit of Freedom since Fossett left Australia and was intercepted over the Tasman Sea by his Cessna Citation X chase plane last week, which flew out of Sydney. That intercept captured air-to-air press stills and broadcast video. The pictures were then fed to the world's media from Auckland, New Zealand. The coverage included a video interview with Steve Fossett beamed live from cameras onboard the balloon's capsule back to the chase plane.

Fossett traversed both coasts of New Zealand at night, which precluded a further chase plane intercept before he set off on the longest and loneliest leg of his solo voyage - the crossing of the Pacific Ocean.

Errol Considine/News Editor
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