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Sat, Jun 28, 2003

Up, Up and Away, Take 2

British Adventurer Launches Toward Balloon Record

British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams dreams of setting a new distance record for travel in an open wicker basket underneath a huge balloon called, "Atlantic Challenger." Friday night, Hempleman-Adams packed his dreams in his basket, waved goodbye, and set out for what he hopes will be a journey of more than 3,300 miles.

"It's a bit scary going up into the unknown. You've got no reference,'' Hempleman-Adams, 46, told Reuters before the launch. "I'm a bit apprehensive. I've just been to the bathroom three times.''

Funny talk for a man who has walked across both the North and South Pole and climbed the highest mountain on every continent. He hopes to beat the 1992 distance record for a similar flight, set by Troy Bradley and Richard Abruzzo. Their flight took them from Main to Morrocco. In this attempt, an FAA official says Hempleman-Adams hopes to make it to Portugal.

Rousing Send-Off

Hundreds of well-wishers waved and cheered as Hempleman-Adams lifted off beneath the helium balloon. He hopes he can make Portugal in six days. To fortify him on his long journey, Hempleman-Adams took along two roast beef sandwiches and a Tibetian good luck charm. He may need that charm.

The weather over the Atlantic can be treacherous at any time of year. He'll encounter temperatures far below zero as his open-air basket cruises at altitudes of up to 24,000 feet. When he runs out of roast beef, Hempleman-Adams will nibble on dried foods - and look for land.

FMI: www.boiukfs.co.uk/mediacentre/pressrelease/press20030512.html

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