Balloonist abandons second attempt at trans-Atlantic flight in open basket
BOSTON (AP) — A British explorer scrapped his second attempt at crossing the Atlantic Ocean in an open-basket, hot air balloon Sunday and landed on a farm 31 hours after lifting off.
Changing wind had forced David Hempleman-Adams, 46, to land near Hardwick, Mass., shortly after 5 a.m. He began the trip from a baseball field in the Pittsburgh area.
A weather system coming over Canada would have stretched his five- or six-day trip into 11, potentially ending his journey in the middle of the ocean.
“Quite frankly, there was no way you could do it,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Hardwick. “There was so much effort going into this from a lot of people … The team was great, and the kit was great. You do everything right –and then the weather. What is disappointing is that, with all these computers and computer models, you can still get it wrong.”
He landed on a small farm owned by Carl White.
“He came down right behind our barn and almost landed on the roof, but he missed it,” White said. “He said his destination was Europe and he fell a little short.”
The open basket of the balloon contrasts with pressurized capsules used by others trying to cross oceans.
“I was trying to get back to the Jules Verne type of travel,” said Hempleman-Adams. “I’d sleep on the floor (of the basket), took my meals on the floor. It’s a nice adventure.”
Hempleman-Adams, who already has climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents and skied to the North and South Poles, previously tried the balloon trip in September but had to land in Connecticut because of problems with its autopilot.
The owner of a chemical company in Britain had spent five weeks in Pittsburgh waiting for the perfect weather. He said he might try again at the end of the year.
The first balloon voyage across the Atlantic was made in 1978 by Americans Maxie Leroy Anderson, Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman. The first solo voyage was completed in 1984 by American Joseph Kittinger.