David Hempleman-Adams finishes Gordon Bennett balloon race

David Hempleman-Adams Mr Hempleman-Adams said he had to land because of thunderstorms

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Wiltshire explorer David Hempleman-Adams has finished in fourth place in the Gordon Bennett gas balloon race.

Twelve balloons took off from Gap-Tallard in France on Saturday evening.

Mr Hempleman-Adams and his co-pilot landed in Worgl, Austria, on Sunday evening after reaching a distance of 580.9km. The winning team flew 779.8km.

Last year, the race - which was first contested in 1906 - claimed the lives of two US pilots, Richard Abruzzo, 47, and Carol Rymer Davis, 65.

Competitors for the Gordon Bennett Cup have a simple aim - to travel as far as possible from the launch site.

Speaking from the site where he landed with co-pilot Simon Carey, Mr Hempleman Adams said: "We had to land as there were thunderstorms all around.

"We had a truly spectacular flight with amazing views over the Alps, Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn... incredible."

Each balloon is fitted with the latest meteorological technology and GPS tracking systems which allow progress to be tracked online.

The British pilots were supported by flight director Clive Bailey and weather expert Luc Trullemans in a flight control centre set up at a Bristol hotel.

"They have had an exciting and stunning flight which was much shorter than last year's flight due to the high altitudes that they had to fly at and bad weather coming in... it was a flight that was hard work but ended with a perfect stand-up landing," said Mr Bailey.

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