Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 24th July 2016

A period of ill health, the issues that delayed Bumble from taking to the skies for over a year and qualifying as a cricket umpire reigniting his passion for leather on willow, has seen my father hardly fly over the last couple of years. He’s been happily coming out to crew for me when I’ve been flying cloudhoppers but getting into the air himself – whether as pilot or passenger – has been severely limited. In fact, until he’d flown with me the previous day, it had been over two-and-a-half years since he’d last been in the sky!

It was obvious the previous morning had unlocked all the memories and emotions that draw him to flying. As with withdrawal from anything, once the initial pangs and cravings pass, the natural pull becomes so dulled that eventually the original source is forgotten; and I think that had happened with my Father. Life had moved on, the gap caused by a lack of flying naturally filled with other things. But just like addiction, all it takes is that first sip, that first inhale, and the flood gates reopen. Flying had flooded through him again the previous morning and when I offered him the chance to come flying again he didn’t need to be asked twice!

The flight was, once again, from The Dog House at Frilford Heath – this time as part of a ‘flyout’ organised by the local ballooning club – the 3-4-40 Region BBAC – but instead of the clear blue skies and picture postcard conditions of 24 hours earlier we were greeted to a bright sun, fighting to break through thick, dense clouds creating long atmospheric tones and shadows.

After such a long break from the air, my Father fell short of the currency requirements he’d need to be allowed to act as pilot-in-command. So, before undertaking a supervised competency flight test, he wanted to shake off the rust and have ‘his hand on the burner for a bit’ as they say. And, as he taught me to fly, and is my Father, I could hardly say no. Rather than just let him have a few minutes in flight, I let him ‘pilot’ the whole flight from inflation to landing – while I just stood in the corner!

This morning we were the first balloon into the air, something  I usually try to avoid as I prefer to let some else go first so I can see what direction and speed they have, and what decisions they make as to how far to fly. As we climbed up to avoid some horses next to the pub we found that we were heading virtually due East, with our track pushing slowly North as we went. This would take us on a path over Dalton Barracks Airfield, across the top edge of Abingdon and ultimately, onto the bottom edge of Oxford. It’s not a bad line to fly, but potentially finishing the flight in the proximity of large a built up area would need to be taken in consideration. Urban areas seriously limited the potential number of available landing sites – after all, housing estates truly are the last-ditch option of the desperate!

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning First Edition

Comments are closed.