A father-son team, fighting strong winds throughout Sunday in an attempt to complete the first nonstop balloon flight across North America, stabilized their Kitty Hawk balloon over the Canadian wilds early today.
Tracking stations reported that Maxie Anderson, 45, and his 23-year-old son Kris, escorted by two private helicopters, decided to delay their descent after hunting 90 minutes for a landing site.
The New Mexico mining company executive and his son had completed the longest overland balloon flight in history when they made their decision to hover over New Brunswick Province for the night.
"There were just too many trees and hills and valleys -- and surface winds were just too strong," said Jim Serna, a meteorologist tracking the flight at Weather Services Inc. here.
They took a dive at Loring Air Force Base about 30 miles south of the border -- and they missed. The air currents weren't with them," explained Jim Mitchell, a spokesman for the flight. By 1:30 a.m., the pilots and ground crew had decided to hold off the touch down until after dawn.
The balloon covered 2,800 "straight line" miles, breaking the old record of 2,003 miles set by a four-man team in September 1979, who flew from Tillamook, Ore. to Spencerville, Ohio.
Kitty Hawk took to the air past Thursday, lifting off at 2:33 p.m. from a parade ground at East Fort Baker near San Francisco.
With sights set optimistically on the town of Kitty Hawk, N.C., where man learned to fly in 1803, the Andersons piloted their balloon over Las Vegas, cutting northeast to Rapid City, S.D., and sweeping on over the Great Lakes with a blustery final jaunt over northern Maine and Canada.
By Sunday afternoon, the balloon crew informed meteorologists that they were headed toward Presque Isle, Maine, the site of Anderson's departure for the successful transatlantic flight of the Double Eagle II which ended in Paris in August 1978.
By early evening, southerly gusts started to force the balloon down closer to the Canadian border.