CHICAGO (AP) _ Balloonist Kevin Uliassi was pelted by snow, sleet and hail during a violent ride over the Nile River on Wednesday, the ninth day of his quest to become the first to circle the world solo.

``The balloon's fine, he's fine, but it was one wild ride that you're not going to find anywhere else,'' spokesman Scott Lorenz said.

Uliassi had avoided thunderstorms in Egypt the night before, but a fast-forming storm that hadn't shown up on radar surprised him at about noon.

Violent winds tossed his craft up and down as much as 1,900 feet per minute, Lorenz said.

Winds at different altitudes blow at different speeds and directions, Lorenz said. At one point, the balloon was leaning at a 30 degree angle.

By Wednesday night, Uliassi was flying due east across Saudi Arabia at 106 mph at 28,950 feet. He had traveled more than 10,350 miles, his circuitous route taking him about one-third of the way around the globe since he launched from a quarry near Rockford on Feb. 22.

Uliassi has doubled his speed since he finished crossing the Atlantic, a process that took several days longer than planned.

The next big obstacle to avoid is not weather or a politically sensitive area, but mountains. The Himalayas, on the northern border of India, are the tallest mountains in the world, with some peaks higher than Uliassi's current cruising altitude.

Uliassi plans to fly south of the mountains, Lorenz said, but that flight plan is not certain.