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Record-holding Japanese balloonist missing

  • Story Highlights
  • Balloonist Michio Kanda missing on flight from Japan to U.S.
  • U.S. Coast Guard searching area around his last known position
  • Kanda holds the world record for the longest-duration balloon flight
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Coast Guard planes and ships were searching Friday for a Japanese balloonist who disappeared off the Alaska coast while flying from Japan to the west coast United States.

Missing Japanese balloonist Michio Kanda (R) with Naoki Ishikawa.

Friends of balloonist Michio Kanda, who was on a solo flight, last heard from him via satellite phone at 9 a.m. Alaska time (6 p.m. GMT) Thursday, said USCG Petty Officer Levi Read.

When he missed three subsequent scheduled calls over the next six hours, they called the Coast Guard, Read said.

Read said two Coast Guard C130 Hercules planes conducted searches Thursday 435 miles south of Adak, Alaska, the balloonist's last known position. The searches continued Friday and are ongoing, Read said.

Two Coast Guard cutters are also headed for the area, but both are at least a day away, he said.

Read said the balloonist, who was heading for Portland, Oregon, is equipped with provisions and a survival suit.

Kanda holds the world record for the longest-duration balloon flight, with a time of 50 hours and 38 minutes, according to the World Air Sports Federation.

In that January 1997 flight, he and Hirosuke Takezawa flew from the Canadian provionce of Alberta to the U.S. state of Montana, according to the federation. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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