I love adventures and this was one that is at the top of the list for my daughter Kirsty and I. A trip in a hot air balloon over the South East of England on a sunny Autumnal evening is something to experience!
Not knowing what to expect, but jointly having a balloon flight on our bucket list we booked the trip last year with Skybus Ballooning who are based at Headcorn Airfield. Both having busy lives and a few cancellations because of weather conditions we finally received a phone call yesterday from Tony who runs Skybus to say the conditions were perfect and to meet him at Headcorn for 4.30pm.
Off we duly headed with intrepidation both wondering what to expect. Upon our arrival we were greeted by Tony and his crew who pulled up with the 4×4 and covered trailer.This was going to be a real hands on flight, there were six of us going up, plus Tony who was flying the balloon and we were all invited to carry out various tasks in getting the balloon, burners and basket out of the trailer and ready for the flight. This made for a great ice breaker between people and by the time we had the balloon up and ready for the flight we were all chatting away freely.
At this point I have to say how impressive this particular balloon is. Custom built only last year, Tony opted for every colour he could have on it apart from black or white! And it’s huge as you can see by the photos. It must have looked very impressive from the ground, it certainly was when standing in the basket looking up inside.
So, after a brief safety demonstration about landing we all climbed in one by one and stood waiting to leave the ground. With a few blasts of hot air from the burners, we started moving, the ground soon fell away from us as we gained height and before we knew it we were at 1800 feet looking down on aircraft coming in to land at the airfield and planes parked up on the runway which looked like Lego.
The next 30 or so minutes were literally breathtaking. The views taking in The Shard, Crystal Palace and the sea at the same time were stunning. The total silence as we floated along between 1 and 10mph, suspended in mid air with nothing mechanical holding us there. Then there would be the sudden roar of the burner as we gained more height.
The time came too soon and we had to prepare to land in a useful looking field down below. Steering the balloon down, the basket brushed the treetops as we headed towards our landing site. And a great touchdown it was too. The basket sat right down on the ground upright and with a couple of steady controlled bursts of flame we were gently lifted a couple of feet landing again until the balloon had steadied itself in one position.
Jumping out, we all helped dismantle the balloon and pack everything away and after a trip back to the airfield we all sat down together in the fading evening light for a celebratory round of Champagne and a chat.
A fantastic experience, very recommended and Tony and his crew were totally professional about every aspect of the evening.
Skybus ballooning website is here: www.skybusballooning.co.uk
And of course, here is the gallery of photos of the evening.