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Balloonist Sweeps Toward Libya

Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett swept over the Mediterranean coast of Africa on Thursday and got help from British rival Richard Branson in his quest to become the first balloonist to circle the Earth non-stop.

At 10 p.m. on the third day of his Solo Spirit flight, the 52-year-old Chicago securities trader was over the northwest corner of Algeria after crossing the Atlantic Ocean and sailing over the Strait of Gibraltar.

Project manager Bo Kemper said Fossett has no permission to fly over Libya and is trying to avoid it, but it is possible that jet-stream winds would propel Fossett’s 150-foot silvery balloon into Libyan airspace whether he likes it or not.

Branson, who had Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s permission to fly his balloon through Libyan airspace, wrote Gadhafi, urging the same courtesy for his American rival, according to Kemper. Fossett’s crew awaited word from Gadhafi.