Kite man in record books
PROFESSOR Brian Cunningham is a world record holder for crossing the hostile Gobi Desert by kite-powered buggy.
The academic from Chorley Old Road, Bolton, will now appear in the pages of the famous Guinness Book of Records after his amazing feat crossing the Asian desert in Mongolia two years ago.
"I am delighted with the record, but when we went we knew were undertaking something that had never been done before. We just wanted to cross the desert by kite power, but to get the world record is great," said Prof Cunningham, aged 63.
The record is for travelling 600 miles 1,000 kilometres across land by kite power.
The record attempt was made in September, 2004, and today Professor Cunningham said: "The terrain was very challenging and, had we known how challenging, we would have had serious reservations. But as we were there, we had no choice."
He was accompanied by his wife, Christine, who acted as first aider and photographer, and two other expedition members, Kieron Bradley, aged 32, and Peter Ash, aged 36, both from Norfolk.
They were sponsored by Network Veka, a window and conservatory installer from Burnley.
The team set off from the Mongolian capital of Ulaaanbaatar in 4x4 vehicles. Each team member carried a "Blessing Cord" sent personally by the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, via Mongolia's ambassador in London.
Prof Cunningham, who lectures at Manchester Business School, said: "The kiting was amazing, travelling at 40 piles per hour, but the expedition turned out to be a cultural experience too.
"We fell in love the nomadic people who are unlikely to survive a generation. We saw the Mongolians with solar panels and TV satellite dishes watching reruns of Dallas it was very sad.
"They are a self-sufficient people, which I greatly respected, but I was the oldest person I met in Mongolia they have such a hard life that they all die young."
An extensive file of records, pictures and statements were examined by the Guinness Book of Records and the record will appear in the next book.
Prof Cunningham is no stranger to adventure. Four years ago, he attempted to cross the Antarctic in a kite buggy but failed when he hit one of the most windless periods on record.
And he and his wife have just returned from the Sierra Nevada in California where they attempted to repeat a 220-mile hike they did in 2002 "Unfortunately, there was record snowfall followed by a heatwave which made the rivers impassable so we had to abandon the hike," he said.
He and his wife are now planning their next adventure he has just bought an ocean-going yacht which they hope to sail to Australia in to see their daughter.