Balloonist Crosses Atlantic Ocean in an Open Basket

In the spirit of balloonist Thaddeus Lowe, a trans-Atlantic balloon crossing is made in an open wicker basket!

LONDON (AP) – Adventurer David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to cross the Atlantic solo in an open wicker basket balloon on Monday, September 29th, landing in England after surviving a sonic boom from a Concorde aircraft over the ocean.

Enduring more than 84 hours of cold and sleep deprivation in a 11/2-metre by two-metre wicker basket, Hempleman-Adams landed just before 6 p.m. in a field near Blackpool, northwestern England, his ground team said.

The 46-year-old British balloonist and polar explorer, who has also climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents and was the first to pilot a balloon over the North Pole, notched the record on his third attempt at theAtlantic crossing, which began on Friday when he lifted off from Sussex, N.B.

In the final few hours of his journey, Hempleman-Adams endured hail and snowstorms as he flew the balloon at 4,200 metres over the Irish Sea in thick clouds after reaching the Irish coast earlier this morning.

Part way across the Atlantic the adventurer had a scare. “He just heard two huge bangs and the balloon shuddered and fell,” Nicky Webster, a spokesman for Hempleman-Adams, said. “It was the sonic boom from Concorde passing by.

“Webster said that even though the supersonic jet was about one thousand metres above him, the sonic booms carried down to him. On Monday morning, he passed over Ireland and the Irish Sea, losing contact with his control team in western England for several hours. Before taking off, Hempleman-Adams said in a statement that he “really wanted to attempt to cross the Atlantic in a low-budget, low-tech old world spirit of the Jules Verne era.”

His balloon uses a combination of helium and hot air, first devised and used in an attempt to cross the English Channel in 1785. That trip failed, killing everyone on board when the balloon caught fire.

His third attempt comes after a lack of winds in June forced him to land in Massachusetts. Last year, technical problems brought him down in Connecticut.

The first balloon voyage across the Atlantic was made in 1978 by Americans Maxie Leroy Anderson, Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman. The first solo voyage as completed in 1984 by American Joseph Kittinger. Neither used the traditional open wicker basket.

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