Explorer hopes transatlantic balloon attempt proves ‘age is just a number’

Explorer hopes transatlantic balloon attempt proves ‘age is just a number’

One of three pilots attempting the first hydrogen open basket gas balloon crossing of the Atlantic has said it shows the “spirit of exploration never fades”.

British explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams, 67, will be joined by American balloon manufacturer Bert Padelt, 62, and Swiss scientist and entrepreneur Dr Frederik Paulsen, 72, for the adventure.

The trip, in the Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer Balloon, has twice been cancelled due to bad weather but it is hoped it will take place in the coming weeks or in October.

The route will see the crew take off from Maine in the US, travelling at around 8,000ft, and aiming to touch down a few days later on the other side of the Atlantic.

Sir David, who lives in Wiltshire, said: “At 67, I’m still young enough to take on a daring hydrogen balloon flight across the Atlantic – age is just a number and the spirit of exploration never fades.

“My previous two Atlantic flights have been solo and my companions for this trip have no idea how loudly I snore.

“May the weather be with us this time as everything else is planned for and ready. Here’s to the journey ahead, defying gravity and expectations alike.”

The team, who will take a Starlink device to provide internet for their trip, hope to conduct live television interviews during their flight via WhatsApp.

They will conduct experiments including a study to ascertain how particles from forest fires travel through the atmosphere and affect conditions such as asthma.

Sir David Hempleman-Adams (left) and American balloon manufacturer Bert Padelt examine a map spread across as table as they work on preparations for the Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer
Sir David Hempleman-Adams (left) and American balloon manufacturer Bert Padelt working on preparations for the Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer (Johnny Green/PA)

Their living space throughout their adventure, supported by Torabhaig single malt whisky, will be the balloon basket which measures 80 inches long and 60 inches wide.

If they are successful, it will be the first Atlantic crossing in a hydrogen balloon and may also mark the longest distance covered in this type of balloon.

Mr Padelt said: “What makes this flight so special for me is that it’s the flight I’ve wanted to do since I was 12 – and I’ve dreamt of doing it many times over the years.

“I’ve had a lot of goals in ballooning and have achieved most of them, but long came to the conclusion I’d never accomplish this one, so it’s the flight of a lifetime for me.”

The crew will take flight with bottles of Torabhaig whisky, distilled on the Isle of Skye, with one bottle to christen a safe landing and the other auctioned for charity.

They will carry the Explorers Club Flag on their balloon – an honour given to expeditions that further the cause of exploration and field science.