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Unmanned Brightwalton balloon breaks height record

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Computer engineer sent balloon into Stratosphere, breaking amateur height record

A BRIGHTWALTON computer engineer is having difficulty keeping his feet on the ground after breaking the UK amateur record for the highest unmanned balloon flight.

On Saturday, David Akerman, aged 51, of Saxons Acre, sent the helium-filled balloon 40,986m up into the air before it burst, smashing the record by 411m.

The launch at the village green was an low key affair, attracting a small watching crowd of one man and his dog.

As the balloon drifted off into the stratosphere, an area which extends from 10km to 50km above sea level, Mr Akerman and his family jumped in the car and headed for Belgium where weather models predicted the balloon would fall.

The balloon's payload contained a small radio transmitter that allowed them to track its height and location.

Mr Akerman said he was in the Eurostar departures lounge when he saw the record fall: “I was absolutely delighted, but I'm sure someone will come along with a hydrogen-filled balloon that will go even higher.”

Despite the trip to Europe, the Akermans were unable to find the balloon and it was eventually retrieved by a fellow balloon enthusiast from Bruges, lying in a muddy field near his home.

Mr Akerman said he took up the hobby because it combined many of his other passions, including photography (he sometimes straps cameras to the balloons) and computer engineering.

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