ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The search for a record-holding balloonist who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean south of the Aleutian arc failed to turn up the man or balloon Friday, the second day since he went missing, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Michio Kanda’s hot-air balloon should have been within range of U.S. radar stations on the West Coast if still aloft, but it was not undetected, the Coast Guard said.

Kanda departed Tochigi, Japan, Thursday morning, or Wednesday evening, Alaska time, on his way to Portland, Ore. He is trying to break world distance and duration records, said his assistant, Chika Edgar, who was reached by telephone in Oregon on Friday.

The last of his regularly scheduled two-hour check-ins via satellite phone was received by his support team at about 9 a.m. Thursday, Alaska Standard Time, and he was reported missing several hours later, according to the Coast Guard. His last known position was about 435 miles south of Adak.

Michiko Kanda, Kanda’s wife, reached by telephone in Saitama, Japan, said through a translator that she was holding out hope that her husband was still airborne. “I’m worried,” she said. “I’m waiting and hoping that he’s still flying and going to land in North America.”

Several C-130s scoured the area of Kanda’s last known position in shifts Friday, with each plane able to cover a swath of about 2,900 square miles in the four hours it could search before needing to return to Adak for fuel, said Lt. Eric Eggen. A pair of Coast Guard cutters equipped with helicopters was also en route to the scene. The Coast Guard, whose planes were equipped only with air-to-surface radar, initially requested air-to-air radar from the Air Force, but has since withdrawn that request, Eggen said.

Radar sites in Seattle and Oakland, Calif., had not detected it, he said. However, the Coast Guard is continuing an aerial and surface search.

The Coast Guard reported stormy weather in the area in the hours after Kanda’s last check in, with 30-knot winds, 20- to 30-foot seas and surface-level clouds. Conditions had improved somewhat by Friday, with 6- 10-foot seas and visibility at about 10 miles, Eggen said.

The Coast Guard has requested any mariners in the area to assist with the search, as well as for assistance from Japan and Canada.

Chika Edgar’s husband, Edmund Edgar, was in Saitama helping the family and searchers try to plot Kanda’s expected course. The family was trying to keep their spirits up as the search went on, who had been missing for more than 30 hours, he said by phone from Kanda’s home.

“We’re all still hopeful,” he said. “We don’t know if it’s still airborne or if he landed in the sea, but we’re all still hopeful he will land in North America.”


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