UK tycoon missing on Titanic sub is adventure addict

British aviation tycoon Hamish Harding, one of five people aboard a missing Titanic diving vessel, is no stranger to daredevil antics — and has three Guinness world records to his name.

The United Arab Emirates-based Harding, 58, is the wealthy founder of Action Aviation, a company that buys and sells aircraft with offices in Dubai and London’s Stansted airport.

Some UK media described the father of two as a billionaire, in reports about the disappearance of the exploration submersible when it dived to tour the Titanic wreck site in the North Atlantic.

Forbes magazine does not list him in its billionaires’ club. However, Harding is certainly wealthy enough to indulge in costly derring-do.

A year ago, he became a space tourist through Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company.

In an interview with Arabian Gulf Business Insight posted on his company’s website, Harding described Bezos as his “dream mentor” and reflected on his own philosophies of life and business.

“I believe you make your own luck in life,” said Harding, who attended primary school in Hong Kong before returning to England for high school and a science degree from Cambridge University.

“You create the environment around you, where luck comes or doesn’t come, based on your decisions, your anticipation of things going wrong, and taking steps before they go wrong,” he added.

The British businessman was based in the Indian city of Bangalore for five years, as managing director of a logistics company, before establishing Action Aviation in 2004.

– Pacific to Atlantic depths –
On his Instagram page, he writes: “I take any opportunities to travel, break World records and fly jets.”

Harding’s Guinness records are for longest duration and distance traversed at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel, and the fastest circumnavigation via both Poles by plane.

The two ocean depth records were set in March 2021, when Harding and explorer Victor Vescovo dived to the lowest depth of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific.

Harding dwelt afterwards on the technical challenges of the dive — with one comment of particular relevance to the Atlantic hunt underway now.

“Essentially it’s easier to communicate with astronauts than it is to communicate at ocean depths,” he told Wired magazine.

At the weekend, Harding had said he was “proud to finally announce” that he would be aboard the mission to the wreck of the Titanic, the luxury liner that sank in 1912 with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

“More expedition updates to follow IF the weather holds!” he wrote on Saturday on social media posts, which showed him signing a flag for the mission.

Harding is a founding member of The Explorers Club of New York, whose president, Richard Garriott de Cayeux, wrote that “his excitement about this expedition was palpable” when they met last week.

“I know he was looking forward to conducting research at the site. We all join in the fervent hope that the submersible is located as quickly as possible and the crew is safe,” he said.

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© Agence France-Presse

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