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Fossett reports smooth sailing

Daily Staff Report

“This is all looking good, I’m even able to sleep, which I’ve never been able to do on the first night of a flight,” Fossett said.

With Fossett getting more sleep than past missions and the Bud Light Spirit of Freedom – traveling at speeds topping 68.75 miles per hour – Project Manager Tim Cole says things are “incredibly exciting.”

“I realistically think we’ve got a shot this time,” adds Mission Control Director Joe Ritchie.

Members of the launch team, including Launchmaster Dennis Brown – as well as commercial airline passengers – got a glimpse of Bud Light Spirit of Freedom from their plane’s windows as the plane made its way from Perth to Sydney.

Fossett’s flight path to this point has taken him over the Great Australian Bight and about 120 miles north of Adelaide. More recently he has passed over Mildura in northwest Victoria, Australia. A spokesman for the Balloon Association of Victoria said the region is a hotbed of ballooning in Australia and will be the site of the 2004 World Hot Air Balloon Championships.

Current flight projections place Fossett soaring high above Sydney, Australia at 15:00 UTC. As he approaches Sydney, Fossett will be high overhead at nearly 21,000 feet. There, the winds have slowed slightly to 51.3 miles per hour.

So far Freedom has traveled 1,807.3 miles.

Editor’s Note: This is an update assembled from wire reports a Web site dedicated to the progress of part-time Beaver Creek resident Steve Fossett and his sixth try to become the first solo balloonist to circle the globe. In five earlier solo attempts, Fossett has plummeted into the Coral Sea and, last summer, was forced to ditch the balloon on a Brazilian cattle ranch after 12 days in flight, making it the longest-ever solo balloon flight. Fossett holds world records in ballooning, as well as sailing and flying airplanes. The Web site can be found at http://www.spiritoffreedom.com


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