First solo Atlantic crossing by balloon

A British adventurer has become the first person to cross the Atlantic ocean solo in an open wicker basket balloon.

    Hempleman-Adams plans to fly over Mt Everest next year

    David Hempleman-Adams landed safely in a hedge alongside a field near Blackpool, northwest England, at around 18:00 local time on Monday.

    He had set out four days earlier, launching from the town of Sussex in eastern Canada last Friday.
      
    "I was just pulling for all my worth in this thing and I was just pleased to see it ditch," the balloonist and polar explorer said shortly after touching down. 
       
    Hempleman-Adams will now await verification of his record by the British Balloon and Airship Club as well as the Guinness Book of Records.
      
    "We are all very relieved and very happy that he had made it this time and we are delighted he has made a safe landing which was paramount," said his wife Claire.
      
    Bad conditions

    In the final few hours of his journey, the explorer endured hail and snow storms as he flew the balloon at 4300m over the Irish Sea in thick cloud, said his Atlantic Challenge team.
      
    Cramped inside the tiny basket, the explorer not only battled sleep deprivation, fear and cold - but was also hit by two sonic booms from a passing Concorde jet and had to drop several hundred metres rapidly.
      
    The explorer's success comes after two previous attempts at the solo Atlantic crossing.
      
    In 2002, Hempleman-Adams had to land in Connecticut due to technical problems and earlier this year atrocious weather conditions caused such a delay that by the time he was airborne the winds were too slow to allow an Atlantic crossing without running out of fuel.
      
    Adventurous history

    His previous records include being the first to fly over the North Pole in a balloon and the first to walk solo unsupported to the geomagnetic North Polo.
      
    He has completed the Explorer's Grand Slam - reaching North and South geographical and magnetic Poles and scaling the highest mountain in each of the seven continents, including Mount Everest. 
       
    Hempleman-Adams says he still wants to attempt to fly a balloon over Everest as the events of 11 September 2001 led to his last trip being cancelled.

    SOURCE: AFP


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