Balloonist eyes long shot route to Alaska
January 19, 1997
Web posted at: 9:50 EST (0250 GMT)
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CHICAGO (CNN) -- It's still up in the air for Steve Fossett, the American seeking to circumnavigate the globe alone in a balloon.
"We are not sure that he is going to land today," Bo Kemper, the project manager, said Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, another member of Fossett's team said they would abandon their original goal of traveling around the world and would set down somewhere in Asia before venturing across the Pacific.
"We plan to land along the east coast of India, south of Calcutta," Bruce Comstock, the project's technical co-director, said earlier Sunday.
As of 6 p.m ET, Fossett was over India and was considering alternate routes across the Pacific. "We have about three days of fuel left," said Kemper. "We are not sure that Steve is going to decide to put down on the ground."
Kemper said there was "a very slim chance" that Fossett could get across the Pacific into Alaska.
"One of the things that we are looking at is to see if he can get to the Pacific Ocean through Bangladesh and other countries and try to get him to that coast," Kemper said. "Steve is in charge of the flight. He's the pilot."
Fossett took off from St. Louis' Busch Stadium on Monday amid high hopes that he would circle the globe. But those hopes were dampened late last week when Libya stalled in granting Fossett permission to cross its airspace.
After detouring to the south, Fossett was finally able to cut across Libya's southern tip on Friday, but the maneuverings cost the balloonist both time and fuel, Kemper said.
In addition to his dwindling fuel supply, Fossett is suffering from extreme discomfort. Kemper said that heaters inside the cabin -- where temperatures ranged from zero to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 C to -12 C) -- don't work above 24,000 feet (7,315 meters), Fossett's minimum daytime altitude to catch faster jet stream winds.
"He's real uncomfortable," Kemper said Saturday.
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