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Icom Assist World Record for the Highest Formal Dinner Party – The Champagne Mumm Altitude Challenge

Icom Assist World Record for the Highest Formal Dinner Party – The Champagne Mumm Altitude Challenge

Radio communication company, Icom UK Ltd has assisted a team of adventurers including ex-SAS soldier Bear Grylls, Royal Naval Officer Lt. Commander Alan Veal and explorer David Hempleman-Adams, in helping break the world record for the highest formal dinner party: The Champagne Mumm Altitude Challenge.

This record-breaking attempt, to celebrate 50 years of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, took place on Thursday 23rd June 2005, high above Salisbury Plain. On a platform suspended on wires under a hot air balloon at 24,262 ft, braving temperatures of up to '50 degrees below zero, and the chance of experiencing hypoxia, the team beat the current World record set by Henry Shelford in 2004 on the slopes of Lhakpa Ri in Western Tibet by over 1000ft.

A specially built hot-air balloon named G-MUMM was piloted to 25,000ft by David Hempleman-Adams. As the record altitude approached Bear Grylls and Lt. Commander Alan Veal abseiled 40ft from the balloon basket to a specially designed and formally laid dinner-table suspended beneath the balloon.

Taking their seats at the table they enjoyed the requirements of the world’s highest formal dinner party: a gourmet 3-course meal, followed by a salute to The Queen – all whilst dressed in formal dinner-dress. With the challenge completed, Bear and Alan disconnected their oxygen supply and performed a high-altitude skydive back to a ground-based celebration.

The team used a combination of IC-4088SR licence free UHF two way radio together with a VOX activated HS-97 headset. The radios were the main communications medium between the team while in and under the basket. Then, once Bear and Alan were under the canopy, between them and the Drop Zone controller.

Asked why Icom radio equipment was chosen Phil Elston, Drop Zone Controller for this Challenge said, ’After much research we chose Icom radios because we believe them to be the best all round radios. In temperatures as low as '50 degrees Celsius and at those heights, the comms are critical. We chose the licence free option because of their ease of use. In fact although Alan and I have ground radio operators licences, Bear does not, so it was easier to go for the Licence Free option.’

Phil added, 'One of the major communication problems faced is the cold. When skydiving, temperatures of –35 degrees Celsius (and lower) are probable and therefore the VOX option with the radios was very useful. The wind noise over a regular microphone would also have been a problem in freefall but this problem was negated by the use of the throat microphone…a real bonus in this respect. '

Commentating on the radio's performance Phil said, 'They performed well. Air to air, we got good range; air to ground however was a little less effective. Saying that, a lot of Drop Zones use PMR446 as their primary ground - air student talk-down system without problems. Thanks Icom, these radios have been a very important part of very large complicated jigsaw.'

Icom UK Ltd Marketing Manager, Ian Lockyer said, 'Icom UK Ltd have been pleased to be part of this world record, and add another piece of exploration history to its heritage.'

The successful adventurers: Royal Naval Officer Lt. Commander Alan Veal (left) and Bear Grylls (right) © Peter Russell/MPLi 2005

Icom UK Marketing -


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