Monday, 19 April 2010

Up, Up and Away!

Something a little bit different from me now and a very enjoyable evening I had yesterday at Bakewell in the Derbyshire Peak District...

About a year or so ago, my Mother in law Jackie booked a hot air balloon ride for herself and husband Dave and after being very unlucky with 3 postponements due to severe weather, the day finally arrived to take to the air and with UK air traffic still suspended due to the Icelandic Volcanic eruption, they might of been the highest flying people in Britain for an hour or so!

Although, I must admit that I don't have any real interest in photographing anything other than wildlife and the odd landscape these days, I relished the challenge of trying to capture the events and I must admit despite very difficult light and being outside my comfort zone, I really did enjoy the experience.

We arrived early at the Showground in Bakewell and had a short wait until the Range Rover and trailer carrying the balloon arrived.

First job after a short introductory talk was for the 3 man crew and 16 (yes sixteen!) passengers to assemble the aircraft.

First job after hitching all the chains and ropes to the basket and securing the guide rope is to fill the balloon with air using two very modest sized fans...

Keeping hold of the balloon while it inflated proved hard work and a great effort was put in by all including Dave pictured on the left with one of the crew members.

Alright, maybe I felt just a tiny bit guilty running around taking pictures while everyone else was putting in the graft, but I was given a fantastic licence to roam by the boys from Virgin and I wanted to take full advantage.

Here is a shot of the inside of the balloon while it was inflating...

Now all the time the air is going into the balloon, the basket is on it's side and after a while the first of the passengers are invited to climb aboard while the vessel is in this position.

This is a hot air balloon after all, and the next job is heat all that cold air generated by the fans.

Fans off, burners on...

After a few minutes, the basket is flipped over into it's correct position and the rest of the passengers quickly jump on board.

Guide ropes are released and up she rises...

Sailing away into the evening sky...

It was off to the Red Lion Pub for a meal and a couple of pints of the excellent Black Sheep Bitter for myself and wife Emma courtesy of Jackie and Dave while the flight was in progress and we later received a call from Jackie to say they had landed safely in a farmers field some place or another.

While Emma and I were sampling the fine local offerings, Dave and Jackie were busy packing the balloon away with the crew and the rest of the passengers. It wasn't all hard work for them and as soon everything was packed safely on the trailer, the champagne corks popped.

All in all a great evening and despite saying "you would never get me up in one of those things", I must admit that I did feel slightly envious of the lucky adventurers and after seeing things first hand and at such close quarters, I might be persuaded in the future! I must admit, that it would be nice to get some pictures from a birds eye view and a balloon certainly is a better vessel for this than any other way of flight.

I'd just like to say a special thanks to all the crew on the Virgin Balloon team for giving me this special access and for making everybody including us land lovers feel very welcome and part of the experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment