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U.S. Balloonist Crosses Atlantic

August 12, 1998

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to cross the southern Atlantic Ocean in a balloon, leaving him in good shape both emotionally and geographically on his fourth around-the-world quest.

Fossett’s mission control at Washington University in St. Louis said Tuesday the balloon had picked up some favorable winds and was drifting across the Indian Ocean.

The next challenge was for his crew to determine the best altitude and wind pattern to carry him toward Australia. They were expected to make a decision early today.

Fossett was facing no immediate problems with about 25 percent of the trip behind him.

``He seems to be in very good spirits,″ said expedition meteorologist Bob Rice.

Fossett’s west-to-east course just skirted the extreme southern tip of the South Africa continent Tuesday when The Solo Spirit passed about 65 miles south of Cape Town.

The balloon was about 900 miles southeast of Cape Town late Tuesday, moving at about 113 mph, as he approached the 7,000-mile mark in his bid to become the first balloonist to circle the globe.

The 54-year-old Chicago businessman took off from western Argentina late Friday. Now that Fossett has passed Africa, Rice said, he will try to catch favorable winds to carry him on to Australia before returning to South America via the Pacific.

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