Search launched for Japanese trans-Pacific balloonist

  1. [​IMG] I hope they find him!!

    Search launched for Japanese trans-Pacific balloonist

    Sat Feb 2, 2008 2:05am EST

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese and U.S. authorities are searching for a Japanese man who has gone missing while trying to cross the Pacific Ocean alone in a hot air balloon, his support group said on Saturday.

    Michio Kanda, 58, set off on the voyage from eastern Japan on Thursday, aiming to reach Portland, Oregon in 60 hours, a support group member said.

    But contact with Kanda, a balloonist with 30 years experience, was lost early Friday morning, shortly after he crossed the international dateline.

    "We'd received calls from him every two hours over a satellite phone since he departed," the group member said.

    "In the last call, he said it was raining a little, but that things were going well."

    The group has contacted over 20 authorities in Japan, the United States and Canada, but there had been no word of progress in their searches, the support group member said.

    The U.S. Coast Guard said on its Web site that a rescue plane was searching around Kanda's last known position, while a patrol boat was also being sent to the area.
    Kanda was aiming to become the first Japanese balloonist to cross the Pacific Ocean alone. His balloon, measuring 50 meters (yards) high and 40 meters wide, is designed to carry around 100 people.

    Kanda tried to make the same voyage in 2004 but failed after bad weather and a fuel shortage forced him to ditch in the sea.

    (Reporting by Chisa Fujioka)
  2. Hope that he is OK and they find him.
  3. [​IMG][​IMG]

    [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=+1]Search for missing balloonist called off[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]NORTH PACIFIC: Michio Kanda was last heard from on Jan. 31.[/SIZE][/FONT]

    (02/15/08 00:45:53) [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]U.S. Coast Guard searchers scouring the North Pacific Ocean for a Japanese hot-air balloonist missing for two weeks returned to base empty-handed for the last time Thursday night. [/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]A C-130 searching the waters about 400 miles south of Umnak Island was unable to locate Michio Kanda, 58, or the debris spotted but not positively identified as his wreckage by searchers earlier this week.

    [/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]The search was suspended after the final sortie returned about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, said search-and-rescue controller Scott Wilwert. There are no further plans to continue searching, "pending further developments," he said.

    [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]The world-record holding balloonist was attempting a trip from Tochigi, Japan, to Portland, Ore., in an effort to break world endurance and duration records. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]Kanda was regularly checking in with his crew in Japan via satellite phone, but on the morning of Jan. 31 his transmissions stopped. He reported rainy conditions and an altitude of 16,000 feet, but did not mention any equipment problems, his team has said. At the time, he was about 435 miles south of Adak.

    [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]In the two weeks since Kanda went missing, searchers only once spotted debris that might have come from his craft. On Monday, a crew marked the location of partially submerged white and blue cylinder-shaped objects and a tan object. However, when searchers returned Tuesday they were unable to relocate them.

    [/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]Kanda reportedly had a survival pod, cold-weather survival gear and food and water to last for about three weeks. But the signal from a manually activated emergency locator beacon he reportedly had with him was never detected, according to the Coast Guard. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-1]The search has been primarily limited to the air, with several Coast Guard cutters that attempted to reach the search area held back by persistent severe weather.[/SIZE][/FONT]
  4. I can't believe the authorities haven't got a lead to go on yet!