Originally created 01/09/98

Crew reschedules launch of around-the-world balloon flight



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A day after uncooperative winds canceled the latest attempt at an around-the-world balloon flight, crew members said Wednesday they were ready to try again.

The Global Hilton balloon team, which was to take off Tuesday morning, plans to launch Friday.

Pilots Dick Rutan and Dave Melton had said they did not expect to make another attempt for about two weeks because forecasters indicated the jet stream was deteriorating. But those conditions have changed, crew spokesman Rob Bailey said Wednesday.

"There was a drop in the jet stream over the Atlantic which caused the delay, but the jet stream is more favorable now," Bailey said.

Bailey said the current plan is for Rutan and Melton to launch at 3 a.m. Friday.

Earlier this week, Chicago millionaire Steve Fossett's attempt to pilot a balloon around the world ended on the edge of the Black Sea.

Another balloonist, Kevin Uliassi, made an attempt New Year's Eve. He took off from Loves Park, Ill., but was forced to land about two hours later in Indiana.