Page last updated at 08:10 GMT, Sunday, 20 September 2009 09:10 UK

Explorer achieves balloon record

Balloon over US
The tiny helium balloon flew for 14 hours 15 minutes

Explorer David Hempleman-Adams has broken the endurance record for a flight using the smallest man-carrying helium balloon.

Hempleman-Adams, 52, of Box, Wiltshire, set the record over the US riding in a scaled-down basket.

"This is the tiniest balloon basket I've ever flown in," he said.

He flew 200 miles from Butler, Missouri, to Cherokee, Oklahoma, in 14 hours and 15 minutes using the class AA-01 balloon.

The previous record was an eight hours and 12 minutes flight undertaken by American Coy Foster in March 1983.

In preparation for the attempt Hempleman-Adams went on a strict diet to lose weight so he could stay in the air longer.

'Scary times'

Mr Hempleman-Adams said beforehand he wanted to set another record as his eldest daughter, Alicia, 19, had recently begun training to be a balloon pilot.

David Hempleman-Adams
The explorer went on a strict diet in order to stay in the air for longer

"Alicia has already done better than me in her balloon piloting exams. It won't be very long before she'll be breaking my records. That's kids for you," he said.

After the flight, he said: "Beautiful scenery, some scary times, and a real test of skill."

In 1998 he became the first person reach the geographic and magnetic North and South Poles as well as climbing the highest peaks in the seven continents.

He has held a number of ballooning records, including staging the highest formal dinner party, at 24,262ft, in a specially-designed hot air balloon in 2005.

In January 2007 he broke the 26-year-old world hot air balloon altitude record, by ascending to 32,500ft over Alberta, Canada.

Later the same year he flew across the Atlantic in the smallest helium balloon to complete the trip.

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