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Thu, Oct 02, 2003

Hempleman-Adams Flies Atlantic in Open Basket

Nearly Freezes, Gets Spooked by Concorde's Boom

Britisher David Hempleman-Adams, who, in the pas decade, has climbed the highest peaks of every continent, who has walked to both poles, and who has tried a couple times before to do this, finally did it: on Monday, the 46-year-old crossed the Atlantic in the open wicker basket of a hot-air balloon.

The three-day flight was mostly just an ordeal of cold and fatigue, but one "interesting" moment caught him off-guard, and, in his weakened condition, scared him to the bone. He was minding his own business, floating along silently over the freezing North Atlantic, when a double "Boom! Boom!" blasted through the quiet and sent the balloon shaking and falling a couple hundred feet. The adventurer had met the Concorde in mid-air.

Though there was no danger of collision, the suddenness and violence of the event really shook the normally-fearless balloonist for a brief time, until he had figured out what had happened, according to reports issued after the landing.

Hempleman-Adams left the shore of New Brunswick on Friday, and flew through not just the sonic boom, but also the cold; he encountered moments of heavy rain as well, hanging out in the open basket. Before takeoff, he said, "I wanted to get back to the old 'Jules Verne romance' of travel." After the trip, which ended in Blackpool, England, he just wanted to get back to bed. Who could blame him?

FMI: www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/wiltshire/leisure/hempleman/

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