Balloonist Continues Over Atlantic
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Adventurer Steve Fossett sailed steadily over the southern Atlantic Monday on his quest to make the first nonstop balloon flight around the world.
Fossett’s mission control at Washington University in St. Louis said by about 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, Fossett was nearly 3,335 miles from his starting point in Mendoza, Argentina, traveling east at a speed of 82 mph at an altitude of just over 25,200 feet.
``Right now, he’s doing great,″ said Marie Finkelman, a spokeswoman at mission control.
Fossett’s flight team expected him later in the day to pass between St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, as he flies eastward toward South Africa.
Fossett was expected to increase his speed to 130-140 mph as he enters an area of higher-velocity winds Monday afternoon.
``Everything is right on the money,″ Finkelman said. ``The balloon is flying itself. No complications are going on right now.″
The flight team expects him pass 300 to 350 miles southwest of the Southern tip of Africa by about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
If all goes to plan, Fossett will then try to fly on to Australia before returning to South America via the Pacific.
The 54-year-old Chicago businessman took off from western Argentina late Friday in a bid to become the first balloonist ever to circle the world. He hopes to complete the course around the Southern Hemisphere _ most of it over treacherous oceans _ in 14 to 18 days.