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."