Atlantic hot air balloon race ends in chaos

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The Independent Online
CONCORDE can rest easy. Few air travellers can have been wooed away from supersonic flight by the first transatlantic balloon race, writes Mary Braid.

In what is clearly a case of up, up and well away, the competition has ended in chaos. Only two of the five teams - the Belgians and the Brits - appeared to have reached any part of Europe safely.

Last night, the Americans appeared to be refusing to come down. Troy Bradley and Richard Abruzzo were last spotted drifting 350 miles from Morocco.

Meanwhile Evert Louwman and Gerhard Hoogeslag, the Dutch pilots, were being treated for shock and hypothermia in Truro. They were winched to safety in stormy weather after landing, earlier than planned, 60 miles south-west of Land's End. The Germans had got there first, splashing down on Saturday after running short of fuel.

Coming second was a personal triumph for Don Cameron, the British balloon manufacturer, who dreamed up the crossing and made the balloons in his Bristol factory.

He failed to cross the Atlantic in 1978 when bad weather and a helium leak forced him into the sea off the French coast. This time, he and his co-pilot, Rob Bayly, landed on a beach just north of Figuiera da Foz after drifting for several hours cut off from ground control.

Eight hours earlier the winning Belgian team of Wim Verstraeten and Bertrand Piccard set down further up the same coast.

Last night, race organisers were forecasting that the Americans would finally land in Algeria.