Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ I Believe I Can Fly

If you’ve spent any time reading the pages of this website or working your way through the mountain of blog posts you will have probably have come to a few conclusions. Firstly, I watch too many films; secondly, I have been suffering with a few trying issues over the last few years and thirdly, it’s been a while since I last flew a balloon.

Sadly the latter comments go hand in hand with one forcibly impacting on the other to a pooint that there have been times over the past few months where I’ve actually been wondering if I’d ever fly a balloon again and was contemplating selling, mothballing or even more drastically, destroying the balloons I owned. However, aviation and ballooning has been such an important part of my life that it isn’t something I could just turn my back on. I had to get back in the air and on the horse. And so with some good weather coming up and my father agreeing to crew today was the day. I was going to fly and nothing: panic attacks, anxiety or the weather would stop me.

Well the weather played ball to give me a nice simple, almost perfect, Easterly wind meaning I could fly from my local village on a direction I love, and for the first time this year the thought of flying was pleasing, no raised heart beats, no foreseeing of doom, no drama. And so meeting arriving on site I set out remembering how everything goes together and checking that everything was still nice and tight, so to speak. I even remembered to bring the GoPro with me!

Taking off into crystal blue skies and settling in what turned into a glorious evenings flying, I firstly got the expect “Goring Gap” valley flow taking me South rather than West, but a quick climb out of the flow and, hang on a minute I’m slowing down, 5 knots, 3 knots, 1 knot. This wasn’t “as per” the forecast. Best keep climbing. Leveling out at 2000ft I found that it was simply just a layer, that in fact only appeared over Streatley, and in general, the wind was true to form increasing very slightly with height (5 knot surface wind and 7 knot gradient) but that as expected it veered to the right as altitude increased by more than enough to provide ample steerage.

Most of the flight was spent hopping around between 500ft and 2000ft avoiding livestock and trying to steer my ‘craft towards sensible places to land. Annoying, while I’d remembered to bring the GoPro and even rig it to the hopper, I’d forgotten to charge the batteries meaning they ran out approximately 30 minutes into the flight! Oops, lesson learnt for next time.

The part of the flight you cannot see was actually the most fun and I’m still disappointed that you don’t get to see the final approach and landing because as I approached Hampstead Norreys I decided that on my current track I was heading towards the woods and mature crop near Hermitage, but if I went high enough and veered enough to the right I’d maybe, have a chance of the Recreation Ground. So I climbed to 3000ft, got a decent chunk of right but sadly not enough for the Recreation Ground but enough to take me towards a large amount of cut hay fields and some pasture by the River Pang. Knowing, however, that as I came down I’d lose my track and my route into the fields, I left the descent to the last minute and came down “cold” with the envelope beautifully rotating as I dropped majestically into the pastures. Something I’d have loved to be able to watch back.

I’d been stunning to finally be back into the air, prove I can still do it and relight the fire that has burnt so long inside me for this small, and specialised part of aviation. So expect from now on lots more ballooning blog posts and if I remember to charge the batteries, more GoPro footage!

G-CEGG Flight Track - 25th June 2014

Photographs © James Dobson

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning First Edition

Comments are closed.