GENEVA, Switzerland, March 15 -- Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, piloting the Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon, have set a distance record as they attempt to become the first to fly a balloon around the world nonstop. By early Monday, the balloon has covered more than 15,700 miles, more than 1,000 miles beyond the previous record for a non-stop balloon flight.
As the crew completes its second week aloft, they are more than halfway around the world. However, the pilots radioed that, 'Our goal is not to break records, but to become the first balloon to circumnavigate the world.' The Breitling balloon is flying east at about 70 mph and at an altitude of 32,500 feet. Early Monday the Breitling Orbiter 3 was about 1,000 miles south-southwest of Honolulu. The crew topped the previous distance record of about 14,300 miles set by Steve Fossett. Piccard and Jones are looking to rendezvous with a subtropical jet stream that will increase their speed to about 125 mph as they fly toward the west coast of Mexico. Staff meteorologists report good and steady weather along this route. On Friday the craft crossed the halfway point of the journey, passing longitude 171 degrees east, having departed March 1 from Chateau d'Oex, Switzerland. Piccard, a 50-year-old psychiatrist from Switzerland, is making his third try aboard a Breitling balloon to circle the globe. Jones is a 51- year-old veteran of Britain's Royal Air Force. He was responsible for the construction of the capsule and flight systems abroad the balloon. ---
Copyright 1999 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---