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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
British adventurer's balloon record
David Hempleman-Adams
David Hempleman-Adams landed safely in a field in Lancashire
A British explorer has become the first person to cross the Atlantic in an open wicker basket hot air balloon.

David Hempleman-Adams, 46, from Wiltshire, touched down at Hambleton, Lancashire, on Monday evening after a flight lasting 83 hours, 14 minutes and 35 seconds.

During the attempt he was hit by two sonic booms from a Concorde flying 30,000 feet above him, causing his balloon to drop several thousand feet.

Mr Hempleman-Adams set the record at 0830 BST when he reached the south-west tip of Ireland.

'Under my skin'

The adventurer described achieving the record - on his third attempt - as "one of the highlights of my life," and vowed not to attempt it again.

"It feels like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

"It had started to really aggravate me - the more I tried the more I wanted to do it, so when I failed it really got under my skin."

Mr Hempleman-Adams said he became emotional when an air traffic controller in Ireland told him he had crossed the Atlantic.

"That really choked me up and I have never had that feeling before on anything I have done."

Emergency services arrived at the scene
That really choked me up and I have never had that feeling before on anything I have done
David Hempleman-Adams
He feared he would have to land in the sea as his fuel had run out, but strong winds carried him over Blackpool and into a field, where the hedges eventually stopped the balloon.

About 200 residents, plus emergency services, welcomed him back down to earth with applause.

"They came running from all over the place it was just amazing," he said.

"The people were so delightful, it just felt nice to be English. The farmer did not know what was going on, he looked so baffled.

A spokesman at the challenge headquarters in Bath described Hempleman-Adams' arrival as "a textbook landing, although he was dragged through a hedge".

Sleep deprivation

The explorer had been in the air for three days since setting off on Friday from New Brunswick in Canada.

Having survived heavy rain, extreme cold and sleep deprivation, he spent a further 10 hours looking for somewhere safe to land.

Earlier in the day it had been thought he might land in Ireland, but weather conditions made this impossible and Mr Hempleman-Adams had been travelling towards Scandinavia searching for a suitable landing spot.

In July this year, the Box-based adventurer was forced to abandon his second bid to cross the ocean due to problems with the weather.

His first attempt at a crossing was in September 2002.

The BBC's Roland Buerk
"He may have ended up tangled in a hedge, but balloonists say it was a textbook landing"

Explorer plans new Atlantic crossing
30 Jun 03  |  Wiltshire
Explorer's Atlantic crossing starts
28 Jun 03  |  Wiltshire
New balloon bid for explorer
12 May 03  |  Wiltshire


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