Monday, April 22, 2024

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Hamish Harding: the British explorer missing at sea near the Titanic

The adventurer is, among other things, an aviator, skydiver and astronaut, and once took Buzz Aldrin to the south pole

By: Tom Ambrose

The Guardian: A British adventurer is among those aboard a submarine which has gone missing near the wreckage of the Titanic.

Hamish Harding, 58, is understood to be aboard the five-person OceanGate Expeditions vessel, which was reported overdue on Sunday evening about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland.

Harding is the chair of the private plane firm Action Aviation. His wife is called Linda, and he has two sons named Rory and Giles, as well as a stepdaughter named Lauren and a stepson, Brian Szasz.

As a student, he left Cambridge with a degree in natural sciences and chemical engineering.

Harding is an aviator, holding an airline transport pilot’s licence and business jet type ratings, including the Gulfstream G650. He is also a skydiver, was inducted into the Living Legends of Aviation in 2022, and is a trustee of the Explorers Club.

He also previously worked with the Antarctic VIP tourism company White Desert to introduce the first regular business jet service to Antarctica.

Harding has made many trips to the south pole and, in 2016, accompanied Buzz Aldrin, who became the oldest person to reach the south pole at 86. He also went into space last year with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.

Harding is the current holder of three Guinness world records, relating to his work as an adventurer. In 2019, he was commended for the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via both poles.

As part of a crew of eight astronauts and aviators in a Qatar executive Gulfstream G650ER ultra-long-range business jet, Harding led the mission to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. He achieved the feat in 46 hours, 40 minutes and 22 seconds.

In 2021, he achieved the greatest distance covered at full ocean depth and the greatest duration spent at full ocean depth.

Alongside Victor Vescovo, Harding dove in a two-man submarine to the lowest point in the world’s oceans, the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, the Challenger Deep – a depth of about 36,000 ft.

The 13-hour underwater mission was also the longest duration spent at full ocean depth (four hours and 15 minutes) and the longest distance traversed at full ocean depth (4.6 km).

On social media at the weekend, Harding said he was “proud to finally announce” that he would be aboard the mission to the wreck of the Titanic – but added that due to the “worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023”.

He added: “A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow.”

Source: The Guardian

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