Icom Support Atlantic Challenge

Icom Support Atlantic Challenge

Icom are providing a high level of expertise and equipment support to a project called the Atlantic Challenge. Led by British explorer and balloonist David Hempleman-Adams, the challenge will attempt to cross the Atlantic from west to east in a traditional open basket Roziere balloon. The Atlantic Challenge hopes to create several world firsts including a solo Atlantic crossing in a traditional open basket Rozier balloon. The Chase de Vere Atlantic Challenger will leave any time between now and October 15 2002.

The Chase de Vere Atlantic Challenger will launch from Pittsburgh, USA. Once airborne, David Hempleman-Adams will head for Newfoundland, keeping in constant communication with his trusted weatherman, Belgian meteorologist Luc Trullemans. Trullemans’ meteorological skills enabled David Hempleman-Adams to achieve the remarkable feat of reaching the North Pole – and the record books – in 2000. The flight will be directed from the Chase de Vere Control Centre in Bath.

This isn't the first time that Icom have supported David. In 1999 the company, based in Herne Bay supported his successful trip to the North Pole. On June 1st 2000 David became the first person to solo pilot a balloon to the North Pole. He broke a number of records and enthused about the Icom Equipment saying it was the most critical communication equipment he took on the journey. Previously Icom have supplied various Virgin Atlantic Crossings led by Richard Branson.

This will be the first British attempt at a solo crossing of the Atlantic in a traditional open wicker basket. The attempt will present tremendous new challenges to a man who has already climbed the highest mountains on all seven Continents, walked to both North and South Poles and been the first to fly a balloon from land to the North Pole. David will be taking a wide selection of Icom radio equipment with him.

The Challenge will be using two HF IC-78 commercial transceivers (which will be used as the main operating transceivers between the balloon and the Chase De Vere control room in Bath). David will also take with him an IC-A200 VHF fixed airband transceiver as well as the IC-A3E and IC-A22E VHF handheld airband transceivers. David will also have an IC-M1EuroV waterproof marine handheld as backup just in case he has to ditch into the sea.

Other equipment that Icom UK has provided include antennas, power supplies and battery cases. Only necessary minor modifications have been made to the equipment that David is taking. For the IC-78 in the balloon, a flexible wire is being placed outside the balloon to act as an antenna for the radio. The IC-78 at Chase De Vere headquarters in Bath requires a power supply and an AH-710 broadband folded dipole, which allows wide frequency coverage without a tuner.

Asked as to the equipment’s use, David said, ’ The IC-A200 VHF fixed avionic radio will be used closer to land and for talking to helicopters. It will be used all the way up through the United States and back into Europe. The HF will be used at anytime. The avionic handhelds will be used as support should anything happen to the IC-A200. I use them in my everyday flying anyway, they are like a trusted watch. I use them on a day-to-day basis and they will be used as backup…just in case the VHF packs up.’Once over the Atlantic, David’s voyage is expected to take about a week. During this time he will have to cope with sleep deprivation, high altitude, temperatures well below freezing and the worst weather conditions offered by the notoriously dangerous Atlantic. David will be at the mercy of the winds as to where he lands in Europe.

Armchair adventurers and well wishers will be able to track his progress on the website www.chasedevere.co.uk.

Asked why he chose to take Icom equipment with him on this journey, David said, ’On my trip to the North Pole in 2000 the HF equipment became a lifesaver because all our other communication equipment failed to work properly. The HF was a godsend because it allowed me to get through to Radio Stockholm and Icelandic Radio. Chris Ridley G8GKC (Icom Service Engineer) instructed me on the operation of the equipment last time and I was really grateful he did…because it saved the trip…no question about it.’He added, ’The thing about expeditions is that you have got to learn from experience. This means you have always got to look for the best: the best team; the best control room; the best weatherman; and the best equipment. I have used other makes but I have always found myself going back to Icom. I wouldn't use anything else now because my life depends on it.’

Asked how cold is it likely to be, David said, 'Although I will generally be flying at 12,000 – 18,000ft I could go as high as 24,000ft. At this altitude the temperature could drop to minus 30C. I will be well wrapped up to cope with this, wearing several layers of my polar clothing. It will be damp and cold compared to the Arctic. Whilst the temperatures will be warmer than the Arctic, because of the humidity it will feel colder. It is also closer to the sea, i.e. below 2,000ft, so I will be wearing an immersion suit, just in case of ditching.'

Asked if he thought this would be his hardest challenge so far David said, 'I will tell you after! However, all my other big flights have been over mountains or Arctic. So if I had landed, I think I would have been able to look after myself. The Atlantic is a big nasty ocean, and I hope if I ditched I would be ok, but water survival is a new experience for me.'So what happens if your balloon fails and falls into the Atlantic Ocean? David said, 'We will have hourly position reports and if anything goes wrong Control will get the closest boat out to me. I will be carrying two dinghies with me in the balloon basket and the basket should actually float as it will also be carrying propane tanks. Otherwise, if all else fails I will have to sit it out with my Icom IC-M1EuroV to keep me company.'Follow the Atlantic Challenge at www.chasedevere.co.uk.

Icom Marketing: marketing@icomuk.co.uk

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