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Pilot to circle globe in balloon

Published Oct. 16, 1997|Updated Oct. 2, 2005

Dick Rutan, who flew an airplane around the world non-stop a decade ago, plans to repeat the accomplishment this winter in a balloon.

Billed as ballooning's "dream team," Rutan and planned co-pilot Richard Abruzzo announced their plans Wednesday at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Standing beneath Voyager, the small plane in which he circled the globe, Rutan proclaimed that success in the balloon will mark a milestone in flight, the first such trip to have been accomplished.

"When somebody breaks your record, they take it away from you. When you have a milestone, it's yours forever," he said.

The announcement came on the anniversary of the first manned balloon flight, in Paris on Oct. 15, 1783.

Rutan and Abruzzo will travel in a giant helium balloon, Global Hilton. It also will have a hot-air system, to keep the helium warm at night and prevent its settling to lower altitudes.

They plan to lift off from Albuquerque, N.M., in January or February and endeavor to circle the globe in nine to 14 days, Rutan said.

Several similar attempts have failed, and as many as seven other teams plan attempts to break the last great aviation barrier.