Transatlantic balloon crossing attempt thwarted by weather conditions

An attempt to cross the Atlantic in a hydrogen open basket gas balloon has been thwarted by weather conditions, seven hours into the challenge.

British explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams, 67, set off from Presque Isle, Maine, with American balloon manufacturer Bert Padelt, 62, and Swiss scientist and entrepreneur Dr Frederik Paulsen, 72.

The trio lifted off in the Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer Balloon to cheers from wellwishers just after 3.30am UK time on Saturday, or 10.30pm on Friday local time.

British explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams
British explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams (Johnny Green/PA)

Their attempt had already been postponed twice due to bad weather conditions but this time, it “cleared up perfectly” for the launch, the team said.

However, conditions then meant the balloon would require an altitude higher than planned, meaning an increased use of ballast.

A spokeswoman said: “The crew have decided to land the balloon before the Gulf of St Lawrence. They concluded they would not have had enough ballast to make it to Europe.”

The balloon landed at 9.40am local time near Christies Landing in New Brunswick, Canada, on Saturday.

The spokeswoman added: “The crew are safe and well. It was a very difficult decision and they are obviously extremely disappointed but safety is obviously paramount.

Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer
Some of the eleven palettes of sandbags that were required for the expedition (Johnny Green/PA)

“They flew for about seven hours, the highest level they flew at was 10,000 feet and about 125 nautical miles in distance.”

She confirmed they would attempt the challenge again when conditions allow.

During their trip, the team planned to conduct experiments including a study to ascertain how particles from forest fires travel through the atmosphere and affect conditions such as asthma.

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

If they had been successful, their trip would have been the first Atlantic crossing in a hydrogen balloon and may also mark the longest distance covered in this type of balloon.