Back in 1998, on a day out, I entered a charity competition to see whose small helium filled balloon would travel the furthest. A few weeks later I heard that I had won, and the prize was a ride in a real hot air balloon.

I tried to take the ride twice but it was postponed, the weather is really important and it just wasn't right on those two occasions. However I finally got to take the ride on 28th August 1999.

Well it was a very early start from home. I was flying from a place called Pendley Manor, near Tring, about 100 miles from where I live. The flight was departing at 6:30 a.m. Apparently the best times for flying are early morning, and evening, something to do with the thermals being right.

The photos below detail the trip.

The balloon arrived packed into it's own basket,
and the first task was to unpack it and lay it out on
the ground.


It was then filled up with cold air
using a large fan.


Next everyone making the trip clambered into the rather
small basket, and the burner was activated for the first
time to introduce some hot air into the balloon.


Soon the balloon leaves the ground.


There's Christine looking up as we take off.


The basket of the balloon just clips
the tallest branches of one of the nearby


Christine and the support vehicle are
now way off in the distance.


A good view of Pendley Manor
from the balloon.


We are getting really high now!


A trains passes by underneath us.
On the right of the picture is a canal.


Passing over Berkhamsted.
There's the milkman!


Back on safe ground about an hour after take off.
Landing was a bit frightening, dodging a radio mast
and a field full of angry looking horses.


The balloon was then packed up
into it's own basket, and we returned
by road to the take off site for a
glass of champagne and to be
presented with a flight certificate.


The certificate to prove I did it.


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