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Queen Meets With Balloon Pilots

April 2, 1999

BRISTOL, England (AP) _ Queen Elizabeth II altered her schedule so she could congratulate balloonists Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard on their historic round-the-world flight.

The monarch and her husband, Prince Philip, chatted with Jones, a 53-year-old Briton, and his Swiss copilot Thursday at the Bristol balloon factory that made their Breitling Orbiter 3.

Piccard, 41, said the queen was ``very interested in how the balloon was fueled and how we managed in the living conditions.″

``She gave me the impression she had been monitoring our progress. On a really bad day, when we were both being sick, we received a satellite fax saying if we made it she would come and see us,″ said Piccard, a psychiatrist from Lausanne.

The men became the first balloonists to circle the globe nonstop when they landed in Egypt on March 21 after a 20-day flight.

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