Sat, Feb 02, 2008
Disappeared Thursday Over Aleutians
Searchers with the US Coast Guard
are continuing efforts to find a Japanese hot-air balloonist, who
disappeared Thursday while on a trip from Japan to Oregon.
The Associated Press reports world-record holder Michio Kanda,
58, went missing over the North Pacific, about 435 miles south of
Adak Island in the Aleutians chain. Two C-130s dispatched Thursday
night failed to detect the balloon on radar.
Friends last spoke with the balloonist -- who is attempting to
beat his own world record for longest-duration hot air balloon
flight -- Thursday morning, shortly after he took off solo from
Tochigi, Japan, bound for Portland.
USCG Petty Officer Levi Read said Kanda was carrying a survival
suit and provisions onboard his craft, in addition to the sat phone
and a GPS. Two Coast Guard cutter ships are also enroute to the
search area, though neither was expected to arrive until Saturday
at the earliest.
According to the World Air Sports Foundation, Kanda -- along
with teammate Hirosuke Takezawa -- set the current duration record
for a hot-air balloon in 1997, with a time of 50 hours, 38 minutes.
For that trip, the two flew from Alberta, Canada to Montana.
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