‘Technical issue’ forces U.K. couple to end transatlantic balloon flight early in Newfoundland

A U.K. couple with the goal of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a helium balloon have landed earlier than expected in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Deborah and Mike Scholes were in the air for about 19 hours, after leaving Sussex, N.B. on Thursday morning, with the plan of arriving in Europe in about a week.

“A technical issue with their balloon made it unwise for them to continue their quest to fly across the Atlantic and on a further journey of some 2,000 miles to Europe,” said a statement Friday morning, issued on behalf of the couple. “Putting safety first, they elected to land whilst still overhead Newfoundland and touched down safely, with a gentle controlled landing, just south of Meelpaeg Lake.”

Before leaving the ground on Thursday, Mike said the couple would make a final decision about continuing their journey once the open Atlantic was near.

“We have a few hundred miles over land, and if we don’t like it, we can land,” he said.

The couple have been planning this journey since 2019, and have faced multiple delays, including: weather, global helium shortages, pandemic travel restrictions, military operations, and health challenges.

“Although greatly disappointed not to complete their journey, this is just a setback for this intrepid couple and has not dampened their adventurous spirits,” said Friday morning’s statement. 

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