Category: Beat

Flight Report: G-ISOB ~ 17th July 2017

Posted on by 5WC in Beat, Hot Air Ballooning

It’s been about 6 weeks since Beat told me they were changing their logo, that the balloon I’d been so proud, so excited, to finally be able to fly, that was the basis for a project that would give me the life I craved, is nothing now but an embarrassing failure. That all those who warned me about spending my own money on a balloon branded for someone else had been proved right.

I like flying cloudhoppers. I find them a silencing tonic to the madness of my mind. Flying alone, I can, for want of a better expression, talk to myself and change the narrative. I’m isolated in the air, in my own bubble, for an hour or so and I can leave behind whatever is plaguing me on the ground and exist for those fleeting minutes, in a world beyond reach. With everything that had gone on with Beat, their logo change, and the financial and emotional failure of the balloon project before it had even really started, I needed some time out, but that meant flying Beat! Read more

Flight Report: G-ISOB ~ 25th May 2017

Posted on by 5WC in Beat, Hot Air Ballooning

Less than 12 hours after the maiden flight of the Beat hopper, with the weather again perfect for flying, and still buzzing from the night before, it was back to a launch site for another flight. This time it would be a more private flight, the only balloon launching into the air, although this time I was being filmed! My friend Grant, who I’d swapped a flight in a plane for a flight in a balloon previously, owns a drone and whilst I’m becoming more and more adept at hanging, strapping and attaching action cameras from balloons to record the flight they always give you a ‘pilots eye’ as it were. You never get to see the balloon from the third-person perspective.

Grant was looking for interesting things to record with his drone, and living locally, it seemed the perfect opportunity to get together and record some external shots of the balloon during the preparation and initial take-off/flight phases. It’s strange how, when you start preparing and inflating a balloon you become focused on the job at hand and actually shut out the world around you. You can be in the main arena with a crowd of 100,000 people watching at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, or under the constant surveillance of a drone and never realise it. I completely forgot that Grant and his drone were buzzing around the launch site with us and simply got on with the job of inflating the balloon. Read more

Flight Report: G-ISOB ~ 24th May 2017

Posted on by 5WC in Beat, Hot Air Ballooning

After the Beat Hopper – G-ISOB – was launched at Norwich Cathedral I have been trying to come up with somewhere special to take off from for its maiden flight. It seemed somehow wrong to simply fly from my local recreation ground, or the field behind the pub, that I use every time I fly locally. Virgin Balloon Flights fly locally from Henley and their pilot, Mark Shemilt, now owns and flies my old cloudhopper – G-CEGG. I also knew that a couple of supporters of Beat lived in Henley and so, a couple of emails later, I’d arranged to fly alongside Mark, from a launch site right next to the river, my old and new hoppers together. It seemed like a fitting start to life for Beat.

As ballooning is a social sport, even if cloudhoppers aren’t, we’d invited another local hopper pilot to join us. The launch site – The Upper Thames Rowing Club – is literally just upriver from the Leander Club, site of the Royal Regatta, and on the grass next to the banks themselves we set about inflating the balloons. As this was the first time Beat would ever free fly, I took a little bit longer than usual on the preflight checks to make sure everything was correct and present – to the slight annoyance of the others who ended up waiting for me to be ready – but after a handful of photographs the three balloons were ready for a syncronised take-off. Although, annoyingly, my crew gave me a gentle push as I took to the skies and I launched swinging happily back and forth like a child on a swing! Read more

Launching The Beat Balloon At Norwich Cathedral

Posted on by 5WC in Beat, Hot Air Ballooning

The ‘Beat balloon’ was delivered by Cameron Balloons in October 2016 and the first consideration was how Beat’s staff could get to see it. Photographs are all well and good, but until you see a balloon up close (and especially a cloudhopper) you just can’t quite grasp the true size, scale and beauty of it. The problem though is that Beat are based in Norwich, and I’m not. As an area, East Anglia isn’t heavily flown – there aren’t any existing balloon meets organised there – which made this tricky. To allow the staff to the see the balloon, I’d have to arrange an “event” myself and make a special trip.

But this raised the question of how? The simplest option would be to arrange to fly alongside one of the few pilots operating in the area, but this would be tricky for the staff – you can hardly ask an entire office to decamp to a field on the outskirts of Norwich purely to watch me take off! A better option would be to arrange a tether – where the balloon would remain tied to the ground – within the city itself. This would solve the problem of the staff coming to see the balloon, as well as, counter the ‘Harry Houdini’ disappearing act that would happen after take-off as I floated off away into the distance.

Now it was time to solve the issue of where? Read more