Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin group of companies and a ballonist, is quoted in the New York Times on January 28, 1997 after having failed in a manned ballon flight around the globe, "...the thought crossed my mind that maybe a round-the-world flight really is impossible...I've come back to my conviction that circumnavigation is possible. I'd put money on someone doing it 24 months from today." Mr. Branson's effort was one of three failed attempts during the month of January 1997. One of those efforts, by Steve Fossett of the United States in "Solo Spirit", resulted in a trip from St. Louis, Missouri to India from west to east that set distance and time aloft records. A fourth attempt is scheduled to be launched from Australia next December.
The claim: If a manned ballon circumnavigation is completed by February 1, 1999 the claim will pay $1 for yes, if not it will pay $1 for no. The flight must travel past the line of longitude at which it began without landing and must carry at least one person.
For an update, look at these articles I've linked to.
I will use the criteria posted by the FAI to determine whether a balloon flight counts. I will use media reports of a balloon flight matching the criteria described, absent any substantial controversy, without waiting for official FAI certification. If there is controversy, I will wait for FAI certification of a flight.
The circumnavigation must be complete by the end of Feb 1, 1999, FX server time.