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Steve Fossett's Balloon Down

Steve Fossett ended his around the world journey Sunday morning (98-08-16) at approximately 14:23 UTC, just east of Australia, ( 21 deg 25.55' S, 158 deg 19.41' E) landing on Amelia Earhard. He had already broken all relevant balloon records.

In case you did not know about him, he was attempting, for the fourth time, to be the first person to circumnavigate the earth non-stop in a balloon.

I was eagerly following his journey, and I thought that he would make it, as I had just viewed his next to last update at 12:45 UTC, and had then gone to bed. However, the Pacific again betrayed its ironic name, and showed how big nature (and the Pacific) actually is.

He had just whizzed over Australia in under 20 hours at over 140 Km/hr, and was heading out over the Pacific Ocean for an Argentine destination. A few hours later, the regular hourly update did not occur, and a little while later, his emergency beacon was activated.

The present conjecture is that he ran into a big thunder storm about half way between Australia and New Caledonia, even though he was flying at over 9200 m. Below are two weather images showing the storm and his final coordinates.

Image at 12:33 UTC, 2 hours before
Image at 18:30 UTC, 4 hours after

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