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The Nation

Balloon Mission Is Abandoned

September 26, 2002|From Associated Press

HEBRON, Conn. — A British balloonist abandoned his attempt to become the first person to cross the Atlantic in an open wicker basket and crash-landed Wednesday in a stand of trees in Connecticut.

When asked if he was hurt, 45-year-old David Hempleman-Adams responded, "Only my pride."

Hempleman-Adams said he decided to land because the autopilot mechanism on his balloon was malfunctioning.

"On a solo trip, you need an autopilot. Otherwise you're not going to get any sleep. You'd be nuts to try without it," he said.

The basket landed on the ground, but the balloon top stuck out over the trees in a dairy farming area 20 miles east of Hartford.

Hempleman-Adams was alone in the 7-by-4-foot basket, carried by a hot-air-and-helium balloon 12 stories high.

The trip started Tuesday near Pittsburgh and was meant to end Saturday or Sunday in Portugal.

The solo distance record for such a balloon is 3,318 miles.

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 another American, Joseph Kittinger.

Hempleman-Adams said he chose the open wicker basket because he wanted to "recapture the golden age of balloonists and explorers." His flight team said he will try again next year.

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