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The BBC's Richard Bilton
"Three world records were broken"
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Brian Jones, mission flight director
"Toe-tingly cold"
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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Balloonist on top of the world
The organisers are
The organisers are "ecstatic"
Adventurer David Hempleman-Adams has become the first person to fly to the North Pole in an open balloon, his crew have announced.

I'm looking forward to a cup of tea

David Hempleman-Adams
He claimed victory despite ending his five-day adventure 12.9 miles short of his goal because of light winds.

Speaking via satellite phone, Mr Hempleman-Adams said he was delighted. "I can't believe we got as close as we did," he said.

Organisers added: "He has achieved the Britannic Challenge. We are absolutely ecstatic. He has gone well into the polar ring."

The 43-year-old Wiltshire businessman survived a last minute scare when he awoke on Thursday to find himself trying to clamber out of the wicker basket in which he was travelling 4,200 feet above the Arctic.

Adventurer David Hempleman-Adams
David Hempleman-Adams: Record-breaker
He was saved by a safety harness which stopped him climbing over.

Clive Bailey, logistics director for the mission, spoke to Mr Hempleman-Adams by satellite phone from the control centre in Wythall, Worcestershire, and told him he had made history.

He said: "Well done, you have done it. You have flown to the North Pole. Never in a million years did I think you would get so close."

The balloon will now head back towards Greenland, Canada or even Russia to land. The North Pole itself has been ruled out because of open stretches of water which would prove too dangerous.

Record run

Mr Hempleman-Adams has slept for just five hours in 84 hours of flying.

On Wednesday he broke all records set by Swedish explorer Saloman Andree during an unsuccessful attempt to complete the flight in 1897.

Brittanic Challenge
Britannic Challenge: "Victory"
Organisers of the Britannic Challenge said he beat Mr Andree's altitude record of 1,800ft on Sunday, his record of reaching 82.55 North latitude on Monday and on Wednesday had been flying for longer than him.

Speaking from his balloon before reaching the North Pole, Mr Hempleman-Adams said: "I feel incredibly lucky and deeply honoured to have beaten Andree's records.

"The romance of the Andree expedition caught my imagination from the very start and, experiencing the conditions myself, I would like to pay tribute to the courage of Andree and his team."

The 1897 attempt to reach the North Pole ended in disaster when the balloon was forced to crash land on ice.

Map of the route
Mr Andree and his two crew members died after eating infected polar bear meat.

Mr Hempleman-Adams's flight is regarded by Britannic Challenger flight director Brian Jones as "the last great aeronautical adventure in the world".

It came within 30 minutes of disaster on Tuesday night when he was forced to climb from 4,500ft to 10,000ft after his support team spotted a turbulent weather system.

Mr Hempleman-Adams had already set a record as the first person to complete a solo balloon flight across the Arctic Ocean.

He also broke the British solo ballooning record after 13 hours in the air.

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