Balloonist flying high in awards
A Bath hot air balloonist has made it into the final four of a brave Britons awards.
The Bath fashion consultant, who broke the world female hot air balloon altitude record, has been named as a finalist in the Amplifon Awards For Brave Britons 2020.
Alicia Hempleman-adams, 30, who soared in her balloon to a 15,183ft, has reached the last four in the Against All Odds category in global hearing specialist Amplifon’s search for ‘The Best Of British.’
Alicia, who now lives in Putney, London, had to deal with temperatures of up to minus 30 degrees as she flew her balloon in Calgary, Canada, on February 8 this year.
She said: “Breaking the record was frightening and surreal at the same time, it didn’t feel like I had done it. I was so lucky to do it on the first attempt.”
Alicia beat previous world record holder Pauline Baker, who reached 14,016ft in 2008.
On the same trip, Alicia broke the female British altitude record for an AX4, AX5 and AX6 balloon by almost double what was set 25 years earlier. She also broke the female British duration record for an AX4 balloon, as her duration was nine minutes longer than the previous record set 27 years ago.
Alicia, daughter of renowned adventurer Sir David Hemplemanadams, gained her hot air balloon licence in 2012 but confessed she had relatively little experience as a pilot.
She said: “In terms of being a pilot, I’m still relatively inexperienced. I don’t have a huge amount of hours and hot air ballooning is not a sport that is very easy to practise whilst living in London.”
Due to the weight ratio, Alicia only had a small oxygen tank, the recording instruments and fuel alongside her in the 3ft by 3ft wicker basket as she flew for an hour and 46 minutes.
She said: “Obviously there is an element of risk, but hot air ballooning is fairly safe if you know what you’re doing. I did get a bit nervous at 15,100ft when the balloon took a bit longer than normal to start coming down.”
Her father Sir David, holds over 20 hot air balloon world records, including being the only person to fly a balloon to the North Pole and back.
Alicia said: “My dad was there with me when I landed. Because of him, I have been exposed to hot air ballooning since an early age. He’d probably like it if I tried to beat him in all of his records!”
Sir David said: “I was extremely proud and relieved when Alicia came back down safe and sound. Attempting to break the world altitude record was the closest I ever came to killing myself so I was so happy to see her back on the ground.
“You watch your daughters grow up, teach them how to fly then they go off and break your records!”
Alicia has been invited to the virtual awards presentation on Tuesday, October 13, where Radio 5 Live breakfast presenter Rachel Burden will host and Falklands War hero Simon Weston will be guest of honour.