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Our Virgin Balloon Flight from Belper on 23rd September 2013


After about 836574 cancellations in the last five years due to poor weather/visibility etc, our flight finally got off the ground - thanks to our wonderful pilot Piers, ground crewman Phil, and all the passengers who did their bit to make it happen. These balloons don't unpack and inflate themselves, ya know!


We also learned some interesting stuff, such as what shape rainbows *really* are, how shadows react to sunlight, and how to tell the difference between a cow and a horse from above.


Even though a hot air balloon flight is meant to be a once in a lifetime experience, we hope to do it again sometime!


Click on each photo for the larger image


First we unwrapped the balloon
(envelope!) and laid it out
flat on the grass.
Zoe and another passenger hold the
balloon neck open so electric fans
can inflate it with cold air.
More cold air, until it's almost full,
so the pilot and crew can walk inside
and check everything is as it should be.
Now to fire up the burners,
to bring the balloon and the basket upright.
Then we all climb into the basket, and
after a few blasts on the burners...

...we're up in the air,
with Babbington Hospital below us.
More heat,
more height!

Crossing the River Derwent, the balloon and basket
are reflected in the water below.

Looking up, from inside the basket
right into the top of the balloon.

Oh wow, the air above the clouds is so
pure that the shadow of the balloon is
almost a 'carbon copy' of the shape,
on the cloud below!


The money shot! Taken above the
clouds from the onboard camera
winched out on a wire! The next
photo shows how this was done.

Inside the basket, the
camera is attached to a cable
suspended from the edge of the balloon,
and then fed through to the outside.


This photo was taken by Pilot Piers
at about 2,300 feet off the ground.

Piers steers.


Heading over Heage and into Ripley,
with Ripley Tennis Club in clear view
near the centre of the photo.

A view of Butterley Reservoir with
Swanwick in the background.
Thanks to Max for this photo.

Leaning over the edge of the basket,
Max goes for a close-up.


Piers checks the on-board computer
for somewhere to land.
Swanwick Hall School? That'll do nicely!

Thanks to Nathan (a pupil at Swanwick)
for this photo. 4 passengers then
climbed out, and with the basket 6" above
the ground, they guided it to the path!

At the path, the rest of the passengers
climb out. But Maureen loved it so
much that she decided to stay!


We repacked the balloon and loaded
up the basket, and Phil
drove it all back to the launch site
to set up the champagne breakfast!

The rest of us have yet another
leisurely ride thanks to Don, who ferried
the passengers back to Belper.

Back at Belper, Phil phills the goblets with
champagne and/or orange juice.
But the troublemakers are only allowed water.

Happy birthday Zoe
(for five years ago!)
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