Hamish Harding (1964-2023) was a United Arab Emirates-based British businessman, pilot, explorer, adventurer, and space tourist. He was the chairman of an international aircraft brokerage company called ‘Action Aviation’ located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He holds three Guinness World Records in his name including the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via both the North and South Poles by aircraft, covering the greatest distance at full ocean depth, and spending the longest duration at full ocean depth. He died on 18 June 2023 in the catastrophic explosion of the Titan submersible in the North Atlantic Ocean, while on the way to view the wreck of the Titanic.
Hamish Harding was born as George Hamish Livingston Harding on Wednesday, 24 June 1964 (age 58 years; at the time of death) in Hammersmith, London. He received his primary education at Peak School in Hong Kong. Later, he attended King’s School, Gloucester, South West England. He pursued B. A. in Natural Sciences and M. A. in Chemical Engineering at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. LinkedIn – Hamish Harding He later moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he started his own business.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Hair Colour: Medium Coppery Blonde
Eye Colour: Turquoise
Parents & Siblings
There is not much information about his parents and siblings.
Wife & Children
He was married to Linda Harding. The couple together has two sons named Rory and Giles. He has a stepdaughter named Lauren and a stepson named Brian Szasz.
Harding started his career in 1988 at a multinational IT and management consultancy company named ‘Logica,’ located in London, United Kingdom. There, he was assigned various IT technical and managerial roles. In 1997, he was promoted to Managing Director at Logica India in Bangalore, India. He worked there for more than five years and left his job in 2002.
In 2003, Harding founded the private equity investment company named ‘Action Group,’ based in Dubai and UK. The following year, he established the aviation brokerage company ‘Action Aviation,’ where he headed the role of chairman. The company is based in Dubai and the UK and also has branches in USA and India. The company has also set up and operated the national helicopter air ambulance service ‘Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS)’ in Qatar.
In 2017, he collaborated with ‘White Desert,’ an Antarctic VIP tourism company, to introduce the first regular business jet service to the Antarctic using Gulfstream G550, a business jet aircraft, which landed on the Wolfs Fang Runway. On 4 June 2022, Harding got the opportunity to fly to space as a part of the Blue Origin NS-21 mission. This suborbital flight marked the fifth manned spaceflight of the New Shepard rocket. In 2023, he joined Ocean Gate Expeditions as a mission specialist for the RMS Titanic Mission.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Harding held a Guinness World Record in 2019 for completing the fastest circumnavigating of the Earth via the North and South Poles in 46 hours and 40 minutes. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Hamish Harding led a group of aviators on ‘One More Orbit Mission’ for the circumnavigation of the Earth in a Gulfstream G650ER aircraft from 9 July – 11 July 2019. The mission was launched and landed at the Shuttle Landing Facility (Space Florida) at NASA Kennedy Space Center, US.
- In 2019, he received the Dealmakers Award at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE).
- In 2021, he set two Guinness World Records for covering the greatest depth of approx. 36000 feet and spending the greatest time i.e. 4 hours and 15 minutes at full ocean depth. On 5 March 2021, Harding, along with Victor Vescovo, dived into the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, known as the Challenger Deep, in a two-person submarine. In an interview, while talking about the achievement, Harding said,
I have always been inspired by the spirit of adventure and exploration in the Emirates, as this country gives you a feeling that anything is possible, and I am proud to represent the country as the first person from the Middle East, to sink to the lowest point on Earth.”
- In September 2022, he was honoured with the Living Legends of Aviation Award.
On 18 June 2023, the Titan submersible operated by OceanGate Expeditions went missing in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
The submersible carried five people, Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, his 19-year-old son Suleman, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Stockton Rush. Titan was set to show passengers the Titanic shipwreck up close, but communication was lost with the vessel just under two hours into its journey. The popular British passenger liner Titanic sank in the North Atlantic on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. Passengers had paid $250,000 for the trip which was supposed to venture close to 13,123 feet deep into the ocean. The craft’s breathable air supply was expected to be exhausted by the morning of 22 June 2023. On the same day, the passengers were confirmed dead after a debris field was found on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, a couple of hundred metres from the wreckage of the Titanic. OceanGate believed that the passengers died in a “catastrophic implosion” and released a statement shortly after the debris field was found, which read,
We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost. These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans. Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and the joy they brought to everyone they knew.”
- In 2016, Harding visited the South Pole along with the famous astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who became the oldest person to ever reach the South Pole at the age of 86.
- In 2020, he took his son Giles to the South Pole, making him the youngest person to reach the South Pole at the age of 12.
- Harding has played an important role within the Explorers Club as a member of its board of trustees and has also served as the chairman of its Middle East chapter.
- In September 2022, Harding’s aviation company ‘Action Aviation’ provided a specially modified Boeing 747-400 aircraft to transport eight cheetahs from Namibia to India. This initiative was part of a collaborative project by the Indian Government and the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia to reintroduce cheetahs to India as in India, cheetahs have been extinct since 1947. The Explorers Club acknowledged the project as a remarkable expedition, and Harding, accompanied by Laurie Marker, the founder of CCF, proudly carried the club’s flag on the flight to India.
- In 2022, he was featured in the weekly magazine of the Khaleej Times newspaper ‘WKND.’