More balloonists aim for nonstop world flight
Watch their progress on CNN Interactive
January 10, 1997
Web posted at: 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT)
CHATEAU D'OEX, Switzerland (CNN) -- A Swiss-Belgian team of
balloonists hopes to take off from the Alps this weekend in a
bid to circle the world nonstop and set a record.
An attempt by tycoon Richard Branson and his crew to do
likewise ended Wednesday morning after technical glitches,
just 19 hours after takeoff from Marrakech, Morocco.
As soon as meteorological conditions permit, the Breitling
Orbiter, manned by Wim Verstraeten and Bertrand Piccard, will
lift off from Chateau d'Oex, Switzerland in a journey that
will be tracked by a special CNN Interactive section.
Verstraeten, a Belgian, and Piccard, who is Swiss, likely
will take off between noon Saturday and 12 a.m. Sunday, when
weather conditions on the ground and at high altitudes have
been forecast as appropriate for a successful launch.
The Orbiter, a 42-meter-high (139-foot) rozier balloon will
follow a southeasterly course from Switzerland, relying on
favorable jet stream currents to complete a trip around the
world in about 15 days.
If all goes according to plan, the balloon, sometimes
reaching speeds over 200 kph (120 mph), should fly over
Greece, Turkey, Afghanistan, the Gobi Desert, Korea and
Japan. It will then travel across the Pacific to the
California coast and float over the central United States and
the Atlantic Ocean before returning to Europe.
Through the course of the Orbiter's flight, CNN Interactive
will feature digital images from the cabin and updates from
the pilot's log as well as news reports and a special
background section on balloon technology and history.
A rival team of balloonists led by Chicago millionaire Steve
Fossett also is awaiting the chance to take off and achieve a
round-the-world record. His balloon Solo Spirit is to depart
this month from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Fossett was
unsuccessful last January, when his balloon crash-landed in
New Brunswick, Canad
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