Balloonist gives thanks to `invisible hand'

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The Independent Online
RECORD-BREAKING balloonist Brian Jones yesterday attributed the success of his round-the-world journey to an invisible hand which guided the balloon in its worst moments.

The 51-year-old from Erlestoke, Wiltshire, also praised his co-pilot, Bertrand Piccard, and the Breitling support team which helped them win the last great prize in aviation.

He told a press conference in Geneva, where the two men had earlier received a heroes' welcome: "It was almost as if there was this invisible hand that was guiding us."

He said that halfway across the Atlantic, as he was furiously calculating if they had enough fuel left to complete the journey, the balloon's speed mysteriously started to climb.

Choking back tears, Mr Jones said: "At that point I just pushed the calculations away and knew we didn't need them anymore, because there was something bigger than that."

The first circumnavigation of the globe in a balloon ended in Egypt on Sunday after 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes.