Explorer hoping to be the first to fly over Atlantic in a hydrogen balloon

Three pilots are hoping to become the first people to cross the Atlantic in an open basket gas balloon next month.

Wiltshire explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams, will be embarking on the journey in The Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer alongside two of his life-long friends, American balloon manufacturer, Bert Padelt, and Swiss explorer, scientist and entrepreneur, Dr Frederik Paulsen.

If the trio succeed, they will become the first people to cross the Atlantic in a hydrogen balloon, and may also complete the longest distance ever covered in this type of balloon.

For Sir David, who has already crossed the Atlantic twice before in an open basket balloon, a successful expedition will make him the only person to have crossed the Atlantic in an open-basket balloon three times.

Speaking to ITV West Country about his motivations, Sir David said: "It's the love of adventure.

"You know, I started off through the Duke of Edinburgh Award when I was a young boy at the local school, and I'm still doing it.

"I've gone up the peak and now I'm coming down the other side, so I'm slowing down a bit now.

"But I think flying — it's not skiing or climbing — the mind's willing, but the body has definitely slowed down."

Sir David Hempleman-Adams receives his honour from the Princess Royal Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

With a combined age of more than 200, the trio could also become the oldest people to cross the Atlantic in an open basket gas balloon.

Sir David added: "As you know, I'm just 25. The other two are going to be going around the basket in a zimmer frame. I've got to liquidise their food, and I'll be looking after them!

"Hopefully with age comes wisdom and experience, though that might be a hopeful wish!".

The team are due to set off on their journey from Maine, in the US in September.

The four-to-five day trip will see them travel thousands of miles over Newfoundland in Canada, across the Atlantic Ocean, and then Ireland and Scottish waters, before they land in Europe.

While flying, the team will be collecting air samples to help support new scientific research.

Weather permitting, the team will fly at an altitude of 6,000ft to 8,000ft in order to collect samples from a mid-Atlantic location at an altitude that has never been sampled before.

The hope is that these samples could lead to the discovery of new natural proteins, which could be used in the development of medicines, biofuels or bioplastics.