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Around the World In 14 Days 261

An anonymous reader writes: "Adventurer Steve Fossett succeeded Tuesday on his sixth try to pilot a balloon solo around the world, crossing the meridian where he started his historic journey June 19, his ground crew at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, announced. Here is the official site, while there's also several other articles, including this one."
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Around the World In 14 Days

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:04PM (#3808829)
    Now we don't have to hear about him trying and failing anymore!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...if he had just gone to the Antarctica and walked around in a circle?

    I'm not trying to be a jerk, but look at the polar view of his flightpath. He's not near the equator, and he never crosses it. It looks more like a circumnavigation of Antarctica than a circumnavigation of the globe. It only looks like a circumnavigation of the globe if you use the 'flat' map, and only because it smears Antartica out.
    • In sailing circumnavigation is defined as crossing through the same start finish point and also the point of the earths surface you get by drawing a straight line from your start point through the center of the earth.

      Steve Fossett would know this due to the fun he's had with his PlayStation.
    • The real issue is not the equator per se but traversing something close to a great cirlce. Is there some recognized standard of deviation from a great circle that would be recognized as circling the globe? There must have been some standard or else he could have taken off from northern tip of Greenland or the south tip of Chile. What are the rules of the game?
  • Well atleast the average slashdotter would have a bedroom that doesnt stink as much as the balloon would.

    Hey, look! I just crapped on some Taliban..

    Man, I am glad he didnt fly over me.
  • by Arcturax ( 454188 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:08PM (#3808854)
    Silver only because he went around an easy part of the world, basically he mostly just circled Antarctica. Heck, you could go to the south pole and walk in a circle and say you've been around the world ;) But still its not a small feat and I congradulate him on it. It would have been a gold star for making it around a lot closer to the equator but then I can understand why he gave up on that, what with countries like China and such refusing to let him cross their airspace...
    • not 24,000 miles (Score:4, Informative)

      by crow ( 16139 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:14PM (#3808911) Homepage Journal
      The Earth is about 24,000 miles around, and he's about 8,000 miles short of that. Obviously, as you said, if he had gone on a 15-minute 1-mile trip around the South Pole, nobody would have considered it a round-the-world trip. At what point does it count?

      Sure, he set a record for the longest distance solo flight, I'll give him that.
      • by Dead Chicken ( 125539 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:47PM (#3809248) Homepage
        If you guys actually read some of the information on the site then you would see that

        As established by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale - the International governing body of aeronautics - the rules say a pilot must set a course of waypoints within a band of the Earth that stays at least 30 degrees latitude south of the North Pole or 30 degrees north of the South Pole. The lines joining those waypoints (on a "great circle" projection) must stay outside those polar caps, although parts of the actual flight can drift inside them.
    • To me the test of going "around the world" is to go through two points that are on the opposite sides of the planet, point A to point B, then back to A. With all due kudos to Fosset, he didn't do that.
      • Yeah, why didn't he just drive that ballon right over to those two points? I mean come on, it's not like he's in an unpowered vehicle or anything. It's not like he doesn't control the winds at every level in the atmosphere. How could he have possibly missed it? He'd better get you on board for his next attempt so you can show him how it's done.
    • Heck, I'd give him a gold star if even if it wasn't near the equator -- but only if he'd plotted a course that in avoiding China, Libya, etc. still covered the full circumnavigation distance of about 25K miles (40,000 KM)

      That's sort of what made Voyager's flight so neat -- they not only did the non-stop around the world flight, they also covered the equatorial distance in the process.

  • I could do that... (Score:1, Informative)

    by bruzasd ( 567851 )
    "Fossett holds world records in ballooning, sailing and flying airplanes. He also swam the English Channel in 1985, placed 47th in the Iditarod dog sled race in 1992 and participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in 1996"
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by simetra ( 155655 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:09PM (#3808867) Homepage Journal
    What's the point? Those ballooners have blown millions of dollars to do this. Why? Plus, as a previous poster pointed out, did he really go around the globe? I say they should have to cross the equator once on each side of the earth, say within a 1000 mile buffer zone.
    • To quote George Leigh Mallory (Everest pioneer), "because it's there."
      • Re:Why? (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah, but look what happened to him []
    • As long as there are record books, there will be people and capitol who try to get in them.

    • There must be the bajillionare fat-cat circle that all made a bet one day, ten years ago.

      Perhaps he faked it. Did anyone see it? We didn't really land on the moon, did we? FOX doesn't think we did.
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      What's the point? Those ballooners have blown millions of dollars to do this. Why?

      Because it's there?

      Because they thought it would be fun/cool/neat/whatever?

      Because they *wanted* to?

      Why wouldn't they? Once you make enough money to cover your daily life, why not spend the rest on something fun?

      Also, bear in mind that it's only *one* balloonist in this case. This is the first *solo* circumnavigation.
      • So why exactly are we paying attention to it.

        It's just somebody (with too much time and money on their hands) having fun. What makes it news???

        This one isn't any real streching of our human limits (like say, the first moon landing), it's no gift to humanity (like a cure for AIDS would be) - what makes it newsworthy???

        • So why exactly are we paying attention to it.

          Because we (the people paying attention to it) also think it's neat.

          Why are newspapers and sites like slashdot following it? Presumably because they think enough readers are interested in it to justify the page space. This is no different from any other human-interest story.

          You could also wax poetic about it being an inspiring story of determination triumphing over adversity. Take your pick.

          If you, personally, aren't interested - more power to you. Don't read the article. The time wasted by skipping it is negligeable.
  • by Uttles ( 324447 )
    So when is he going to travel the full distance? (not necessarily on the equator, but at least a respectably close path in related distance)
  • Richard Branson must be pissed. Hasn't he been trying this for years and always ended up falling about half way around?
    • Re:Haha! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fruey ( 563914 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:14PM (#3808908) Homepage Journal
      No, Branson gave up long ago. I met him when he took off from Marrakech, Morocco, in 1999. He was with Steve Fosset at that time and I was lucky to talk to Steve, who's a pretty genuine guy.

      Branson never attempted the flight solo. He was pipped on the circumnavigation by some other team, and Fosset then went alone to become the first to do it solo.

      Official rules as to what constitutes a flight which is a real circumnavigation are on the site, it has to be between the two 30 degree meridiens basically... in any case it will not be ratified until some weeks have passed.

      • Official rules as to what constitutes a flight which is a real circumnavigation are on the site, it has to be between the two 30 degree meridiens basically...
        Meridians run from pole to pole. Hence the Greenwich Meridian. Those horizontal thingies are circles of latitude.

  • by HMV ( 44906 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:13PM (#3808897)
    "Adventurer Steve Fossett"? This must be the first report I've seen in years that didn't say "Multi-Millionaire Steve Fossett". I had become convinced that Steve was his middle name.
  • Wow! (Score:2, Insightful)

    Piloting a balloon solo around the world. That is incredible---if this was 1899!! :)

    Brian Ellenberger
    • Yeah... but he was the first (not withstanding he was short a few thousand miles).

      Your snide comment is silly since it's said everywhere from CNN to /. that it was the FIRST! The only person closer to this, was himself. He beat his old record.

      Of course when people are starving you ask what is the benefit, but what have you done lately to compare?
      • Your snide comment is silly since it's said everywhere from CNN to /. that it was the FIRST! The only person closer to this, was himself. He beat his old record.

        It's a valid comment (and a joke from the Leno monologue). We sent spacecraft around the moon thirty years ago, but now we're supposed to get excited about a person going around the world in a ballon, just because he's the FIRST to care enough to try it?

        And he wasn't the first to round the earth in a balloon; he was the first to do it solo. Not too impressive, if you ask me.
        • Yes, the first solo... that is what this all about.

          Great we sent someone to the moon thirty years ago. But when we go to great depths of the sea we don't go "well... it aint mars".

          Leno is dumb, I'm sorry I missed that one, don't be suprised I did.

          Still, the point remains no one else has done it... like you, or me.
          • by Surt ( 22457 )
            "Still, the point remains no one else has done it... like you, or me."

            Well, I was going to do it last year, but I was born several million dollars too poor.

            This is not a feat of great skill, but of adequate engineering, and good weather.
  • by Titusdot Groan ( 468949 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:13PM (#3808904) Journal
    In other news, Bud Light Scientists recently announced they were nearing the end of their ground breaking high altitude sleep deprivation beer party study [].
  • by Thagg ( 9904 ) <> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:14PM (#3808918) Journal
    That you have to survive the landing for 48 hours, something that Fosset has thus far not demonstrated.

    There was joke going around during the construction of Rutan's Voyager round-the-world-nonstop-nonrefueled plane, back in the mid 80's. Nothing was spared to reduce weight on that project, because every pound of additional structure required six or seven pounds of additional fuel, requiring more structure, and so on. Unfortunately, that philosophy turned the cockpit into a bit of a hellhole. The saying was, though, that any more than 48 hours of survival was excess design capacity; unneeded for the record attempt.

  • So, this guy is from Chicago. You can't imagine the amount of press coverage it has gotten here. Some jacknuts millionare decides he's too bored with squashing the poor so he gets in a blimp and flies around the world.
    • So, this guy is from Chicago. You can't imagine the amount of press coverage it has gotten here.

      I feel for you, pal. I don't live anywhere near Chicago and I've already heard way too fucking much about this.

      Most mass media outlets are billing this as one of the major stories of the day. Why? Does anyone really give a shit? I mean really, really care? How many of us really care about ballooning? How many of us know anything about ballooning? Why is this a major news story?

      I hear a lot of people complaning that this guy should have used his money to help needy causes rather than attempt this record. I understand this frustration and disgust. However, it is his money after all and he's entitled to spend it however he likes. The thing that galls me is that the media fawns over him like he's accomplished some monumental achievement on behalf of the human race. Yeah, yeah, it's a record. So what? I don't hate this millionare. I hate the media for hyping him up as some kind of hero or celebrity.

      The super rich will always find ways to amuse themselves with their money. That's fine. So why the hell is this a news story?


  • by recordalator ( 263910 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:17PM (#3808950)
    Man with too much money has finally accomplished a completely useless feat after only 5 previous attempts to do so.

    What a great day for humanity.
  • by conduit4 ( 589726 )
    I'm tired of hearing about these people that have more money than one human being needs. This guy and others (Bill Gates) have enough money to change the world if they wanted to. Why dont they put their money to some good use rather than stupid crap like this. They could change a small country that is dying off due to starvation or lack of water but what do they spend their money on. Balloons. I can understand wanting to do all these things just to say you did it, but I would feel horrible about myself knowing that I have that much money and I am flaunting it around while children are dying all over the world.
    • Ahh, but there's the hitch.. You CARE that children are dying all over the world.. They.. don't.
      • Bill Gates IS doing something about it. He will eventually be responsible for saving thousands and likely millions of lives of people in undeveloped countries. But you will probably still think you are morally superior to him, because he did it the easy way, using money.

        That's the difference between you and people like Bill Gates.
        • yup, I sure do think I am superior to him. That is exactly what I said. Anyway, I admit that I was wrong to include him, I was just heated and babling before thinking. Just dont go putting words in my mouth please.
          • A) Well, to me it sounded like you were implying that Bill Gates doesn't care that children are dying throughout the world. And I would think it is safe to assume that you DO care.

            B) So, if this is the case, then I would say that you ARE morally superior to Bill Gates, woiuldn't you?

            So of the above, which is wrong, A, B, or both?
    • by mblase ( 200735 )
      They could change a small country that is dying off due to starvation or lack of water but what do they spend their money on. Balloons.

      And you could sell your PC and give the money to the Peace Corps to buy a few dozen more bags of grain, but what do you spend it on? Asinine Slashdot posts.

      Wealth is relative. You're ridiculously rich compared to the starving children you mention, and somehow I doubt you're lifting a finger to do much of anything about it. What you really mean is that you want him to spend his fabulous wealth on you and what you want, isn't it? Give all his money to the poor so you don't have to feel like you have to?
    • Everyone is missing my point. These people have billions of dollars. I dont. I said that if I had that money I would try to do more with it. Like I said in another post I currently have $15.00 in my bank account. Doesnt give me very much to give away right now does it?
    • by davie ( 191 )

      I'll bet you I'm more tired of hearing from people who think they have the right to determine what other people should own. When it comes right down to it, you probably think that anyone who has more than you has too much. Nevermind that the person who signs (or will sign) your paychecks probably has a helluva lot more than you. Should we take what he has and give it away so you can be laid off?

      The world is crawling with people who think you have too much and are perfectly willing to kill you in order to take it from you.

    • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:57PM (#3809342)
      Ground crew. People who made the balloon, equipment, and supplies.

      It's like the space program -- people act as if the money is just shot into space and lost. It wasn't -- it is spent on the designers, builders, support crew.

      Whether or not those people should have considered getting "real" jobs is another question which you seem to know the answer to. I personally would rather they got it than some jacknape too lazy to get off his ass and look for a job. And if it comes down to a spacecraft or balloon engineer or ground crew, vs someone equally deserving in some other country, I'd just as soon it went to the locals.
  • ...solo around the world, crossing the meridian where he started his historic journey June 19.

    I bet it would be much easier to cross back onto the meridian from where you started near a pole. I'm sure its colder, but its cold up there anyhow.
  • Now they just need to send an empty balloon around the world and then we won't have to hear about these attempts anymore.
  • Congrats! (Score:2, Funny)

    by daeley ( 126313 )
    It was really hairy during the bullfight, not to mention when they rescued the princess! Congratulations on a job well done!

  • That my lawn chair with some weather baloons could go faster due to streamlining.. 195mph pffft.

  • I would like to say that Bud Light made this journey possible. Remember the next time you are driving on a long trip that Bud Light will help you reach your final destination, it worked for Steve
  • by drfunch ( 137051 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:27PM (#3809035)
    Don't you think that Mr. Fossett has endured enough without the criticism being heaped upon him by the Slashdot crowd.

    You have no idea how stressful and agonizing it is being a millionaire dilettante, having to indulge yourself constantly with testosterone and ego-enhancing 'sports' like yachting and ballooning.

    Feel his pain.
  • by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:28PM (#3809048) Homepage
    It appears that the rules for balloon flights are established by The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI): []

    There's lots of interesting info on their website at []

    It's a good read, if for no other reason than gaining the ability to drop "homologation" into your next conversation.
  • Or whoever knows about wind patterns... I read this book in high school, don't remember the name off hand but basically there's a nuclear war in the northern hemisphere. Everyone up here dies. Everyone in Australia is flipping out, because slowly the radiation seems down and kills all of them too. (Is it called _On the Beach_?) Anyways, the point being, winds DONT occur for like a 40 mile band on the equator right? IF this is true, then a balloonist would not be able to cross the equator, no?
    • You're probably referring to the "doldrums" or "horse lattitudes".

      Anyway, I don't think that they'd only apply to surface winds, not winds aolft, as a baloon would encounter.

      You're probably referring to the "doldrums" or "horse lattitudes".

      Anyway, I think that they'd only apply to surface winds, not winds aolft, as a baloon would encounter.

    • Yes, the book is Called "On the Beach".
    • The book is (as everyone has confirmed) titled "On The Beach".

      The author is (as no-one has yet pointed out -- preen) Nevil Shute. (FWIW, he also wrote "A Town Like Alice", and several other books.) Chances are he had more than a passing knowledge about this sort of thing as he was an engineer who founded an aircraft manufacturing company.
    • Well, it depends on what you're talking about...

      It is well-known that near the equator and near the surface, the winds are generally light. But there is what's called the "Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone", an area of convergent winds. You can see that on a satellite picture [] of the western Pacific (look at the bottom edge, near the equator, obviously...). The latitude of this zone varies by season, moving always toward the summer hemisphere. It is an important component in what is called the "Hadley cell", which is an important circulation since it carries a great deal of heat from the tropics to the mid-latitudes and helps explain the placement of the major deserts. A good discussion of the very general "General Circulation of Earth's Atmosphere" can be found here [], however some of the more interesting "facts" in it are currently in debate (for example, the existence of the Ferrel cell... the Hadley cell is definitely there, though).

      So, the tropics aren't totally wind-free and are actually quite important to what happens through the rest of the world. I believe that it's been calculated that the average residence time of an air parcel in any one hemisphere is about 2 to 4 years, meaning that most parcels travel between hemispheres decently frequently.

      Other factors to include is what's called the "Quasi-Biennial Oscillation" or QBO. This is strictly a lower stratospheric phenomenon (30 hPa is a pressure with sea level around 1000 hPa... 30 hPa is somewhere around 30 km above sea level.)

      For some info on the QBO, check out:

      Hope this helps. In short, a balloonist could be able to cross the equator. But you'd want to avoid it since the equator is normally pretty stormy.

  • Jeez, this guy spent I don't know how many years of his life, and millions of dollars, trying to reach this goal. How is the science logo appropriate for that? Is there an artist out there who could whip up a good looking balloon icon?

    It's the least we can (collectively, I'm no artist) do.
  • That's great! No more slowpoke airplanes for me! Now I can finally hope to see in my lifetime my dream come true of cheap, reliable, balloon flights anywhere in the world. I'll keep my eyes set on Travelocity for the moment when they add a 'balloon' search and I'll be the first to book my flight.

    (Stupid millionaires with nothing better to do with their money. Lord, some of us have to WORK - okay, fair enough, I'm playing at /. not working but you know what I mean - not just blow through cash in pointless excercises.)

  • About a year ago there was some tour to visit the actual communciation station (I happen to go to WashU) to talk to Steve. I passed and the very next day he crashed, but it didn't phase me much because I just assumed he was going to try again..and again...and again...and fail, fail, fail. Looks like he proved me wrong and I'll never be able to visit the communciation station..I hate my life.
  • They didn't even say what his class was!

    And Look! What kind of Bio is this for an "adventurer":
    Fossett's other adventures have including swimming the English Channel, piloting a dog sled in the Iditarod race in Alaska, driving in the LeMans auto endurance race in France and finishing the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.

    I see no Dragons! No Kobolds! Not even a little steenking goblin.

    Heh, some adventurer he is.

    Come here, that I might BRAIN thee!
  • didn't francis drake circumcise the world with a 30-foot clipper?
  • According to a story on [] He's done a whole lot of other impressive stuff too.

    To quote;
    "Fossett's other adventures have including swimming the English Channel, piloting a dog sled in the Iditarod race in Alaska, driving in the LeMans auto endurance race in France and finishing the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii."
  • "The Living Earth® image is a highly accurate composite of multiple high-resolution satellite images that has been color-enhanced to appear natural to the human eye. "

    I hate this kind of crap talk : it's stressing totally silly, useless details, buzwords and nonsense. A Black and white map with only the outline of the continents would have been just as clear.
    And who says they didn't just scan it from a stupid $10 atlas from one of their kids ?

    Even when he's having fun, a millionaire can't stop blabbering peptalk. Doesn't anyone else feel like puking on his fucking balloon ?
  • Bored rich guy is more like it. I have my eye on a few FAI records and if I had some money I'd be breaking those.

    For people not involved with FAI records: there are several classes based on aircraft type, engine type, task etc. A record would look something like "production single-engine land monoplane, less than 200 HP, fastest flight over a distance of 500 miles."

  • Judging on the pic of the map [] I'd hardly call this "around the world". A person could walk in a 10 foot wide circle and cross all longitudes too. This just doen't seem to be that great a deal to me. If he followed the equator or something like that, sure, then I'd call that a DAMN big deal, but this is kinda minor IMHO...
  • Woopteedoo (Score:3, Funny)

    by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @04:21PM (#3810050) Journal
    Millionaire pounds "me first" record into submission. A world yawns...
  • This is NOT an "orbit" of the earth. Skimming around the edge of Antarctica is NOT an orbit of the earth. It's like the guys who work at the south pole, there's a marker to indicate the true geographic pole, you can walk around it and claim you orbited the earth in a few seconds. I'll save my praise for someone who orbits around the equator, like Dick Rutan and Jeana Yaeger did.
  • please, this guy didn't fly "around the world". He flew a circle around the south poll. There's a pretty big diffrence.
  • by EvilBastard ( 77954 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @12:45AM (#3812399) Homepage
    "He's going to try to put down some place safe. A safe landing is the key to everything right now," says the Sydney Morning Herald []

    The print version of the story goes on to describe a safe landing was a large open area, dotted with a few trees to avoid dragging him around.

    The catch ? He was planning on flying over the Nullarbor plain in Western Australia. Nullarbor is not Australain Aboriginal - it means "No Trees" in Latin for obvious reasons.

    So they are going to skip that, stay south and will probably hit South Australia in a couple of hours, continuing to clock up the miles.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.