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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Explorer plans open-basket Atlantic trip
Davidn Hempleman-Adams
David Hempleman-Adams' journey should take a week
Explorer David Hempleman-Adams plans to fly solo across the Atlantic in a balloon with an open wicker basket.

The Bath-based adventurer expects to face sleep deprivation, temperatures as low as -30c (-22F), high altitude and the dangerous weather conditions of the Atlantic.

The 45-year-old plans fly from America to Europe, an attempt likely to take him about seven days.

If successful the journey would break the solo world distance record for this size of balloon - as high as a 12-storey building - of 5,340km (3,337.5 miles), set 10 years ago by a US-based team.


After the second day you start to make silly mistakes and you argue with your team

David Hempleman-Adams
Mr Hempleman-Adams' bid is the first British attempt at a solo crossing using an open wicker basket, instead of the hi-tech capsules used by many record-chasing balloonists.

He has already climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents and walked to both the South and North Poles.

Mr Hempleman-Adams said: "I expect the low point to come when I get away from land and hit the coast - I think that will be a very scary moment.

"You have to make the decision as to whether you put down or go for it."

His greatest fear was having to land in water, as that involved a difficult attempt to get into a life-saving dinghy, he said.

David Hempleman-Adams
A delighted Hempleman-Adams phones home

But he would be sleeping in a rubber immersion suit with a dinghy strapped to him and a parachute nearby in case of emergencies.

Sleep deprivation was likely to be one of the greatest dangers, he said.

Government scientists had advised him to drink high caffeine energy drinks as he neared the end of his journey.

"After the second day you start to make silly mistakes and you argue with your team so that's why you need good guys who you respect," he said.

The record attempt will be co-ordinated by the flight control centre at a building belonging to his sponsors, Chase de Vere, in Bath.


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