Etienne’s expedition postponed

Published on 23.01.2008 - Total Pole Airship

Bad luck for french explorer Jean-Louis Etienne. his airship was vertically lifted from its mast by winds of 55 knots and crashed...

It all happened at the small aerodrome of Fayence, in the Var. This is where the airship with which Jean-Louis Etienne was preparing to measure the thickness of the Arctic pack ice next March was moored. All the attachments and other anchoring points had been checked by the pilot and, according to the weather forecast taken yesterday around 8 PM, no storm was in the offing.

This is what happened (taken from the press release on his website): "The airship with which the explorer Jean-Louis Etienne was to carry out his Arctic expedition was smashed to pieces on Tuesday morning, 22 January 2008 at 06 26".

Mathieu Gauche, a team-member on the ground, was keeping watch when the airship was vertically lifted from its mast by winds of 55 knots (100 km/h). The pickets, 4cm round and 1.6m deep, which were retaining the mast, were all ripped out.

The airship then began to race over the aerodrome when the remainder of the Total Pole Airship expedition team arrived on the spot. They set out in search of the airship using the headlights of a car. The airship was then lifted some 30 metres off the ground, and crossed the D562 secondary road. The mast crashed into a hangar before ending up on top of a neighbouring house by a gust of wind. Stephan Luchini, the expedition pilot, had made enquiries about the weather the day before at 10 PM : no storm had been forecasted..."

Etienne made it clear however that he was not abandoning his project.

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