Steve Fossett Balloon Attempt
Report from Steve's attempt to be the first person to fly a balloon single-handed non-stop around the world. He left Perth on 19 June, on his sixth round-the-world attempt and is currently flying over the southern Atlantic Ocean.
Report from Steve Fossett - 27 June 2002
"Crossing the Andes Wednesday evening is an exciting milestone in the Bud Light Spirit of Freedom Flight, but it is also decision time. I would be over South America only 6 hours and it's the last place to land before the finish in Australia. Succeed or Ditch.
The route out of South America this time runs southeast for over a day taking me to 62 degrees South latitude before turning northeast. That's over the Antarctic ice pack! My team went to work on the implications of such a southern route. Since it would be colder than anything we had flown in before, Project Director Tim Cole got together the minimum fuel flow temperatures, the pilot light and cabin heater vaporization temperatures. That information showed that the balloon should be able to stay aloft in the forecasted cold. Meteorologist Luc Trullemans reviewed and presented the level of confidence of the flight trajectory. (I don't want to get down there and find it's no longer possible to make the turn to get back north.) Mission Control Director Joe Ritchie considered the rescue options if the balloon goes down in the far South Atlantic. Adequate fuel, oxygen and water is the easy part - I have it.
Last year my team decided I must land in southern Brazil. The route to Australia was in shambles which would require climbs and descents to steer a way. I was going to run out of oxygen and not be able to do the necessary climbs. This year I've got the working equipment. Frightfully dangerous - Yes. But I believe I can make it."
Note: Steve Fossett is attempting to make the first solo balloon flight around the world. This remains the last great balloon challenge. The first global flight with a crew was accomplished by Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard and his English co-pilot Brian Jones in March 1999.