The Breitling Orbiter Comes to Ground

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Twenty days after Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones stepped into their Breitling Orbiter 3 balloon in Switzerland, they stepped out, this time in a remote Egyptian desert 400 miles south of Cairo. In between there was an unusual passage over China, doldrums over Central America and brisk winds high above the Atlantic. And a new record: The two are the first to accomplish the tricky meteorological feat of riding a balloon around the world propelled solely by the wind.

The team and its sponsor, the Swiss watch manufacturer Breitling, will collect a million-dollar prize from Anheuser-Busch. That probably won't begin to cover the cost of the race, but at the moment nobody seems to mind. Ground crew members say they are going to drink for "the next couple of days." And Richard Branson, who failed in his own attempts at the record, is now talking about sponsoring an around-the-world balloon race. Gentlemen, start your burners.