Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Balloonist

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard has suspended its search today for the hot-air balloonist reported missing January 31, 2008.

Michio Kanda, 58, departed Japan January 30th on a solo balloon flight to Portland, Oregon. Kanda’s last reported position was approximately 435 miles south of Adak, Alaska.

During the 16-day search the Coast Guard searched over 40,000 square miles, roughly the size of Kentucky, with no sign of Mr. Kanda or the survival capsule attached to the balloon’s gondola.

C-130 search planes from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak conducted 16 searches of the area for over 200 hours, while the Coast Guard Cutters Rush and Jarvis steamed toward the last know position for a combined 144 hours before being forced to turn back due to weather. The Rush sustained a two-foot crack in its hull and was taking on water in 30 to 40-foot seas. Rush crewmembers were able to temporarily patch the hull allowing the cutter to make port in Dutch Harbor for further repairs.

“The weather took its toll and made for challenging search conditions,” said Captain Michael Inman, Seventeenth Coast Guard District Chief of Response.

An Air National Guard C-130 from Anchorage also assisted with search efforts.

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