Cross Channel Flight

balloon-over-waterOver the years our company has take part in a number of epic flights and one that immediately springs to mind was a flight across the English Channel from Dover to Calais. The flight was organised for the Variety Club of Great Britain Charity and had about 70 teams participating. We went down with 2 balloons Graeme and Emma to fly in one and Dave & Nick in the other with Derek and Clive doing the retrieve for both of us. We had an early start as we had to be at Dover Castle for a 06.00 briefing and six hour drive to get there, although it was 10.00 before we actually got on the launch field. All the balloons got into the air by 11.00 with us towards the back. We quickly realised the track was further right than planned and likely to be twice as far (Folkestone-Bologne). We then noticed most of the other balloons dropping out of the sky for sporty landings before the coast, but being northerners we thought we aren’t chickening out and along with Dave & Nick and five or six other teams carried on. The flight had to be flown as low as possible to keep as much to the left as possible (the wind was more to the right with height) even having to climb to cross the ships in the shipping lane. The distance doesn’t sound too much on a map but half way across there was no chance of seeing any land in any direction and I can remember Emma saying sea, sea and more sea. We crossed the coast two hours after take-off with the other guys right behind us and then carried on for another hour into France. After landing we were having trouble contacting our retrieve crew and flight control, so we decided to ask for help at the local gendarmes, “big mistake” but that’s another story.