INTRODUCTION: Four men -- Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, Ron Clarke and Hiraoki (Rocky) Aoki -- completed the first manned balloon crossing of the Pacific on Friday (13 November).
GV Balloon taking off from Nagashima, Japan
SV Pilots in radio contact with balloon
SV THROUGH AIRCRAFT WINDOW Wing-tip
SV Balloon on radar in cockpit
GV Clouds at dusk (2 shots)
SVs Searchers at Mendocino Country, California (2 shots)
AV Balloon with gondola on side of hill
SV Crew getting out of gondola
CU Crew member Ben Abruzzo speaking
AV Balloon on side of hill
STERNOFF: "Lift-off, Monday from Nagashima, Japan. The four men in the gondola -- a yellow box held aloft by a balloon filled with helium -- hope to cross the Pacific Ocean to the United States in just five days. The balloon, the Double Eagle Five, went through storm after storm, the crew kept in radio communication with airline pilots....(RADIO MESSAGE).
"En route, the winds were favourable and strong. But the weather was terrible. Heavy rain and snow and icing conditions. Yesterday, only 500 miles from California Ben Abruzzo was worried."
ABRUZZO: "Looks like we may go in. We'd like you to notify air/sea rescue for us."
STERNOFF: "Planes couldn't see the balloon but it was going down because of accumulation of ice and snow and the crew was throwing ballast including non-essentials into the ocean in an attempt to stay aloft. Hours later in another storm and darkness the balloon just managed to come across the coast of northern California and it landed somewhere in Mendocino County.
"But where? Ground crews prepared to search. And this morning they found the balloon. It was on a ridge. The gondola was 50 yards below it and the crew men were OK. They'd waited out the night inside the yellow box. 'Rocky' Aoki was the last man out. Ben Abruzzo was satisfied. And what's next?"
ABRUZZO: "Get another balloon. fly across the country finish up. Then go back to Europe and fly to Japan. They'll be around the world."
STERNOFF: "Bill Sternoff, NBC News, Mendocino County, California."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Four men -- Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, Ron Clarke and Hiraoki (Rocky) Aoki -- completed the first manned balloon crossing of the Pacific on Friday (13 November). Their craft landed near Ukiah about 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of San Francisco, California, U.S.A. It had taken them three and a half days to cover the 8,530 kilometres (5,300 miles) from Japan to California. On the way the balloon, Double Eagle V, battled ice, rain and gale-force winds. The craft crash-landed in the Sanhedrin Mountains, in the coastal wilderness of California. Bill Sternoff of NBC News monitored the flight.