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Fossett predicts a balloon will circle globe within 3 years


January 21, 1997
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EST

NONKHAR, India (CNN) -- Millionaire balloonist Steve Fossett said Tuesday that he was not disappointed that he fell short of a goal to become the first to sail a balloon nonstop around the world, but added that he would have been happier if he'd succeeded.

"When I try something this difficult ... success is almost a reward that isn't anticipated," he said. "But I was very happy with this flight and I think all the members of my team will be happy with the results of it."

"I would have been far happier if I succeeded, but when I try something this difficult I don't expect success."

-- Steve Fossett, Balloonist
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Fossett left St. Louis, Missouri, on January 13, and put down in Nonkhar village, about 550 kilometers (330 miles) southeast of New Delhi, early Monday morning. He traveled more than 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) and remained aloft six days, two hours and 49 minutes, both world records.

Fossett himself held the previous distance record.

The decision to stop the mission came after a delay in obtaining permission to fly over Libyan air space cost Fossett time and fuel. Crew members said the balloon was also using fuel faster than anticipated.

Fossett said the crew had been unable to get permission to fly over China as well, necessitating the decision to set down in India.

Map of Fossett's voyage

A peek at Fossett's oxygen tanks

Fossett surrounded by reporters

"I didn't want to continue on because that would have put me right into China," he said.

The cold temperatures also took a toll on the balloon pilot, but he said he was in good health.

"I'm a little bit behind on my sleep," Fossett said. "I only got about an average of two hours of sleep each day and I'd really hoped to get four hours to feel good."

The 52-year-old stock broker said the attempt to fly a balloon around the world was a "fascinating project," and predicted the feat would be accomplished within three years.

Villagers and crew members worked Tuesday to untangle the metallic Solo Spirit balloon from a tree, and pack up the balloon and cabin to be returned to the United States.


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