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Round the World Attempt Abandoned

January 8, 1997 4:45am GMT
Virgin Global Challenger Press Release

Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the Virgin Global Challenger attempt to circumnavigate the globe will not complete its flight.

Details, at present, are sketchy. We are communicating with the capsule through e-mail from the Control Centre in London. We have not declared an emergency. The pilots are in control of the balloon. They are currently at approximately 8,000 ft. They are controlling the descent. They were up to 30,000 ft. We became aware of the problem approximately 13 hours 50 minutes into the flight. It is a "pan" situation, not a life threatening situation.

The balloon has travelled approximately 400 miles since the launch yesterday morning at 11.19 a.m. from Marrakesh, Morocco. They will land in Algeria, 50-70 miles east of North Morocco. The anticipated landing time is 06.00 GMT. We anticipate a successful landing. The landing site is calm. There are no adverse conditions.

The nature of the problem is not fully assessed at this time. We will give more details as operations continue to retrieve the capsule and pilots.

Richard Branson, when speaking direct to Mike Kendrick (Project Director) from the capsule, stated, "I'm sorry to disappoint you and everyone. We have a duration problem and have to come down".

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