In June of this year, two British balloonists and GTC customers, Deborah Scholes and her registered blind husband, Mike, will attempt to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in a Rozière balloon, a specialised hybrid helium balloon specifically engineered for very long flight times.
It's a challenge only successfully completed 11 times before, the first time in 1978 when pilots Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman crossed from Maine, USA, and landed in Miserey, France, nearly six days later.
Other notable crossings include the First Solo Transatlantic Balloon Flight, piloted by Rosie O'Grady in 1984; the First Transatlantic Balloon Flight From East to West, which was bravely taken on in 1992 by Thomas Feliu & Jesus Gonzales Green; and most recently, in 2007, when David Hempleman-Adams guided the smallest balloon ever to cross the Atlantic, just four years after he won the award for First Transatlantic Balloon Flight in an Open Wicker Basket.
Deborah and Mike anticipate their crossing, from Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada, will also take roughly six days, just like the world's first ever flight did, and when they reach their landing place, which could be anywhere between Scandinavia and the southern tip of Italy or Greece, multi-marathon-running Deborah will become the World's First Lady to successfully pilot a Transatlantic balloon crossing. Mike, who, in 2006, flew a small balloon to 32,000 feet in a builder's bag, will become the world's first registered blind person to record a Transatlantic balloon flight.
To keep Deborah and Mike reliably connected with their Mission Control team on the ground, we are supplying them with an Iridium GO! exec™ satellite wifi hotspot which will allow them to send WhatsApp messages and emails directly from the device or their smartphones. Their messages will be received by their Mission Control team on the ground, a group of individuals based in different locations in the UK and one in Belgium. We will also supply them with a Garmin inReach® Messenger, a ruggedised, long-life messenger tracker with built-in SOS functionality that can trigger a search and rescue mission from Garmin's centralised IERCC.
This incredible challenge will not only put Deborah and Mike well and truly to the test, but their precious Garmin and Iridium hardware too. They will rely on the GO! exec and inReach Messenger to record their location, status, and overall affirmation that they are okay and safely still in flight by virtue of the ability to WhatsApp and email from altitudes of several thousand feet.
We can't wait to monitor Deborah and Mike's progress.