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Sunday, 28 October, 2001, 13:39 GMT
Party balloon flight breaks record
The record-breaking attempt required 600 balloons
A 46-year-old man from Herefordshire has flown into the record books by setting a new world record for a flight powered by party balloons.

Ian Ashpole, from Ross-on-Wye, reached a height of 11,000ft, while strapped to 600 balloons in a harness.

He realised a childhood dream and beat the previous world record of 10,000ft, which he set himself in 1996, although he had hoped to reach 15,000ft.

Ian Ashpole
Ian Ashpole: achieved a childhood ambition
Once he ascended to the record height at the North London Parachute Centre, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday, Mr Ashpole, cut himself adrift with a knife and parachuted back to earth.

Afterwards he said: "It's a childhood dream.

"I saw a film called The Red Balloon, in which a boy floats off on balloons, when I was a child and ever since I've wanted to do it."

Mr Ashpole had risen to 5,000ft attached to a support balloon to give him enough height to be able to parachute safely to the ground.

Dramatic moment

He then released himself and rose a further 6,000ft at an initial rate of around 1,000ft a minute.

He admitted to being mildly apprehensive before trying the stunt, which was quite eventful.

He said: "The one worrying moment came when I released myself from the support balloon and began to spin quite dramatically.

Ian Ashpole
Ian Ashpole: achieved a childhood ambition
"It got to a point where a lot of balloons were starting to burst - it was like machine guns going off - and I cut myself free without any problem."

His wife Louise Ashpole said: "I don't understand it. I have no idea why he wants to do it.

"It's obviously great fun for him. I don't think I could stop him doing it if I wanted to."

Balloon man Ian Ashpole
"We are pretty pleased with ourselves"
See also:

20 Feb 99 | Balloon race
Balloonist prepares for 'sky walk'
18 Feb 99 | Balloon race
Balloon record bid on course
17 Feb 99 | Great balloon challenge
'Perfect' launch for British balloon
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