24 April 2024

British adventurer sets three female airship records in the US

24 April 2024

A British adventurer has set three female airship world records – 20 years after her father set the male record in the same airship.

Alicia Hempleman-Adams, 35, from Bath, Somerset, achieved the feat in Connecticut in the United States on Tuesday morning.

The fashion consultant took off on the solo flight from the town of Bethlehem, reaching an altitude of 4,100ft and travelling a distance of 20.5km in one hour and seven minutes before landing near Torrington.

This meant she set world records in the BX-03 hot-air airship class for altitude, distance and duration.

Ms Hempleman-Adams is the second woman to set world records in the unique aerial craft, which travels vertically using heat from propane burners attached to the pilot cabin.

A propulsion engine is fitted to the cabin, for forward movement, while rudders mounted to the back of the airship allow precise direction control.

Ms Hempleman-Adams is the daughter of adventurer Sir David Hempleman-Adams and flew in the same airship he used to set the male world record 20 years ago.

Speaking after landing, she said: “I am delighted to set these new world records.

“I found the hot-air airship far harder to pilot than flying a hot-air balloon. With controls for speed, altitude and navigation you feel like you really need three hands.”

Ms Hempleman-Adams has been flying hot air balloons for 12 years, with this her first challenge with a hot-air airship.

Her father, Sir David Hempleman-Adams, who has held 47 world records in balloons and airships, was part of her support team in Connecticut and greeted her as she landed.

Sir David said: “I am so proud to see Alicia claim another batch of world records and particularly as we now hold the female and male record for this airship class in the family.

“It was really special to dust off the same airship in which I set my world records in 20 years ago and watch Alicia get to grips with this notoriously difficult machine.

“She’s already a hugely decorated female pilot at such a young age. The sky really is the limit for her.”

Once the records are verified, Ms Hempleman-Adams – who has been supported by Torabhaig Single Malt Whisky – will hold six World Air Sports Federation world records and 15 British records.

She became the youngest person to visit the North Pole in 1998 at the age of eight, and the youngest person to ski across Baffin Island in Canada at the age of 15.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox