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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Fossett, Team Hold Press Conference

Aired July 2, 2002 - 09:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to go straight back to St. Louis now where the folks who have been working so hard to help Steven Fossett accomplish his...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you see around you, Steve?

STEVE FOSSETT, RECORD-BREAKING BALLOONIST: Yes, it's the middle of the -- it's night time. Local time is 11:00, at night. And it's a clear night up above, I can see the stars, but there's cloud cover down below. I'm 250 miles south of Australia. It seems we missed Australia on the way around, and we're taking a -- Luc Trullemans has found a routing for me to get back north into Australia for landing tomorrow.

QUESTION: How did you mark the moment, Steve?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve, they want to know how you could mark the moment when you crossed the finish line?

FOSSETT: I'm sorry, say again.

QUESTION: How did he celebrate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you celebrate?

FOSSETT: Well, you can't do very much celebrating here. I do have a few bottles of Bud Light, but I've been saving that for the landing because there's no one to drink it with here, but that's the nature of solo flight.

QUESTION: Can he describe his feeling to us, after ten years...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel after ten years, they want to know.

FOSSETT: Well, it's an enormous relief and satisfaction, because I've put everything into this, all of my efforts, all of my skills, I have taken the risks associated with this over this long period of time, and finally after six flights, you know, I've succeeded, and it's a very satisfying experience.

QUESTION: Steve, what was different this time?

FOSSETT: It's been a progression of preparation. We never appreciated how difficult it was to fly a balloon around the world solo. When I started off on this, I thought, well, maybe I might not make it the first time, but surely the second time. But then we realized that there's quite a lot of equipment that my team had to develop, basically invent. There's many more pitfalls than we had ever imagined, and it's taken, you know, six flights, and I haven't had very many competitors because it is so difficult that not very many competitors have entered this arena to make the first solo flight.

QUESTION: What does he have ahead him before he gets on the ground?

FOSSETT: Could you repeat that question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What have you got ahead before you get on the ground -- Luc, we are going to let Luc answer this, Steve.

LUC TRULLEMANS, CHIEF METEOROLOGIST: Hello Steve. One of your weather freaks is here now.

I can say that you will find nice, fair weather. Fifty-five knots to the northeast, and we will find some nice valley in the middle of nowhere somewhere -- in the Australia where you can put down your balloon with less than five knots at sunset, tomorrow. For you, today, this evening. So, Steve, I want to say something to you. Thank you for your confidence for, you know, for us it was a real great adventure. We didn't know where we would get when, because as a Belgian, you know, the south of Australia is so far away of us, after around the world in the north, I wished to do this with you. You know this, and you asked me to do this. I thank also, David. David did a great job to avoid the thunderstorms, you know, to avoid the cyclones, and I think David will say something to you.

DAVID DEHENAUW, ASSISTANT METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Steve. Congratulations on my part, too, for you. It's a great achievement. I want to thank my boss, director of the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium. I also want to thank NOAA, the American National Weather Service, because we have been working with their models. Without the efforts of U.S. scientists in weather, and Luc and I are first to recognize this, this would not be possible. So, I've always maintained good relations with the National Weather Services around the United States. I thank them for their efforts, for their magnificent efforts. I would like to tell that this is a Belgian-U.S. effort in meteorology. They did the science, they are great at it. We work with it. We thank them again. We did the interpretation.

And after what happened on the September of 11th, it's been a great joy and a great honor for both of us to give something back to the United States. The United States were also -- were always there for Belgium. When they needed us, when we can give something back, it's truly honor. We will say here to celebrate your Fourth of July. We are great -- we are proud of that. I will enjoy it very much. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now, Joe Castellano from Anheuser-Busch would like to congratulate you as well, Steve.

JOE CASTELLANO, VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL MARKETING, ANHEUSER- BUSCH: Steve, Joe Castellano. On behalf of August Busch, Bud Light...

ZAHN: Well, we are going to stay with the picture here. He has done it on his sixth try. He is the first person to fly a balloon solo around the world. He did it in about a two-week period. He covered some 19,250 miles. It is not clear yet exactly when this very tired man will touch terra firma again. His chief meteorologist suggesting that he will land in a valley in the middle of nowhere someplace in Australia tomorrow, Australia time.

But Steven Fossett has done it. There has a lot of talk about whether he would actually accomplish this feet, a very tired Steven Fossett saying one of the first things he will do when he crosses the line is go to sleep, lay down and go to sleep. All he has been able to catch up on so far is little cat naps along the way, because he has had to, obviously, remain extremely alert as he has battled terrible winds over the Indian Ocean, and other bad weather patterns.

So again, congratulations, Steve Fossett. His support team officially declaring that he has, in fact, done it. The first man ever to fly around the world solo on a balloon.

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