2008/02/01

Up, Up, and Away

UPDATE: Even before I posted this, Michio Kanda failed to make three of his scheduled satellite telephone calls and is missing south of the Aleutian Islands. (I don't know why they waited six hours to report him missing. When I was flying in Hawaii, if I had missed a single radio call a search would have been launched in 20 minutes.) US Coast Guard planes are now searching for him. While he is equipped with a survival suit, in those waters it would only offer limited protection. His last known position was 435 miles south of Adak, Alaska, which is in the west end of the Aleutian chain.


Before dawn on Thursday morning, Michio Kanda, a 58 year old official of the town of Kawajima, Saitama Prefecture, gently lifted off in his hot air balloon "Starlight", in hopes of becoming the first Japanese person to cross the Pacific Ocean by that means. Mr. Kanda failed in a similar attempt in 2004 due to a faulty burner and was rescued by the Japan Coast Guard. He did, however, successfully cross the Himalayas by hot air balloon in the year 2000. He also holds the 50-hour, 38-minute world record for the longest flight in a hot-air balloon.

If all goes well this time, he will touch down somewhere in the mid-west coast of the USA (let's just say that hot air balloon navigation is less than precise) on Saturday evening local time.

His balloon is the largest hot air balloon in the world with a diameter of 45 meters and a height of 50 meters.

He said of this attempt, "I'll try hard as this is the culmination of my hot-air balloon adventures."


I was in high school when this song came out. "The Fifth Dimension" won 4 Grammy Awards for it. Jimmy Webb wrote the song. (He also wrote "MacArthur Park"). Dig that crazy shower curtain dress.



May the winds be with you, Kanda-san.

9 comments:

Martin J Frid said...

I was NOT looking at the curtain!

Great video, great adventure - from Saitama no less. Godspeed...

ladybug said...

Wow, the music finally worked on my new computer! This is exiting, I hope he makes it...

Love the clothes, the dress is a scream! I also remember clear umbrellas too. I had a big long one when I was a little kid. It covered me down to my hips when I walked to school, but I could see where I was going!

Martin J Frid said...

ladybug, sounds good!

I do hope he makes it. It will inspire a lot of people to think beyond the ordinary "here and there".

Recently, I did a editing/proofreading job for KARI, the Korean space agency, as they are about the put their first astronaut and up, up and away to the International Space Station.

Cheers for the effort!

bonnie said...

Oh, dear, I hope his phone's just broken.

You always know with these adventurers that there's a chance something could go wrong.

It's always so sad when it does, though.

ladybug said...

I just read the update, I really hope they find him (the Alaskan waters are so cold!) and that he does not meet Sedna.

Don Snabulus said...

Hoping for the best...

The Moody Minstrel said...

Ah, the glorious '60s...when it was perfectly okay to write and sing songs that were happy in a carefree rather than a predatory or perverse way. Nowadays a song like "My Beautiful Balloon" would be greeted with acidic chortling if not a round of barfing.

Why don't women wear dresses like that now? Come to think of it, I guess women in modern music videos don't even wear that much.

Kanda-san is an adventurer and a survivor. Let's try to be optimistic.

Pandabonium said...

Martin - no, you were looking through it like the rest of us hetero guys.

Ladybug - takes me back to the time of lime green shag carpeting and orange kitchen counters. ack!

Bonnie - me too.

Don - all we can do now.

Moody - you are so right about the music. Songs today must all embrace cynicism toward life. Too bad.

He is that (a survivor) and he also knew very well the risks involved. What ever the outcome, the attempt was heroic.

Swinebread said...

This was big news locally in oregon because he was supposed to land here.

I hope he's OK

He was coming to oregon because balloon bombs of WWII, and wanted a new peace trip by balloon