Diver Profile – Dave Thompson

Dave Thompson is the original designer of the Inspiration rebreather, manufactured by Ambient Pressure Diving in the UK. It is the first CE approved closed circuit rebreather available on the market and with 1000s of units sold is the most commercially available closed circuit rebreather in the world.

How did you first get into diving? How old were you?
1973 with Watford underwater club, I was 20ish:-)

How old are you?
53 – there now I’ve said it!

How many dives have you done?
About 6000

What are your diving qualifications?
BSAC advanced instructor
IANTD trimix CCR Instructor Trainer
Member of the board of advisors for IANTD

What is your favourite piece of dive kit, and why?
My rebreather cos it makes me think!

When did you first decide to build a rebreather and what made you decide
to do it?
When I found out how much a cis lunar was. I got really fed up with twin 15s and two 10l stages.

How did the rebreather evolve and what was it built from originally?
It evolved from bits of drainpipe and scrounged parts of a twin hose reg. My first scrubber was litrally a piece of drainpipe!

How much did it cost?
Cant remember how much it cost but the first po2 controller cost me £9.50.

Have you ever had any close calls whilst diving?
No, but I have had to rescue a couple of people, very scary!!

How long did it take you to get from the concept to something that you
could dive?
About a couple of years until I was brave enough to take it in the sea but It went in the swimming pool after only a couple of weeks. I used to swim around under swanage peir frightening the OC divers, I even had one guy try to rescue me cos he thought I was drowning!!

Did you ever envisage that 1000’s of people would be diving a unit that
you provided the concept for?
Not in my wildest dreams!!

How does that make you feel?
SCARED!

Is your unit modified from the production unit currently available? How?
Yes quite extensively, I am always fiddeling, it has neoprene counterlungs, only one handset, a VR3 linked in, adv and a OC/CC mouthpiece, and last but not least back up o2!

What has been your best diving experience? Were you using the
rebreather?
My best diving experience was the Brittanic but that was on OC.
My most memorable rebreather dive was swimming in the middle of a huge pod of dolphins, they were very worried that I wasn’t blowing any bubbles.

Diving the Britannic is a deep dive, how often do you dive to those kind of depths?
Most of my diving is in the 50-80m range, but I have dived beyond 100m quite a few times.

Do you still enjoy diving? What do you like best?
Yes, everything!!

What is your most recent dive?
Two days ago 70 meters on the drop off in Lanzarote.

What would you say to anyone wanting to learn to dive the Inspiration?
First you have to have a reason for having one.
Then you have to be prepared for some big changes.
Then you have to be prepared to stick to the rules ALWAYS!

What are you up to now?
I am still experimenting with rebreather designs and trying to learn more; the nice thing about rebreathers is that however much you learn, there is still loads more…

Last question, on your desert island what book, DVD and music CD would
you take?
Aliens2, Shogun by James Clavell and anything by David Gray