Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 31st July 2016

I try not to promise people balloon flights. It’s not because I’m antisocial and don’t wish to fly them but simply because I don’t want to let anybody down. I only fly a dozen or so times a year privately, and whilst I’m happy, and really enjoy, sharing the experience with friends I just hate the knowledge that a promise now may take months, or even years, to come to fruition. Friendships can be solely tested when your word appears to be nothing but empty.

So, I was acutely aware that it was now getting well over 18 months since a very long-standing friend had swapped me a flight in his plane for a flight in my balloon. And while he was being completely understanding as to the reasons why I hadn’t kept my side of the bargain, the weight of knowing he’d been waiting that long was starting to sit far too heavily on my shoulders.

My Father, having refound his desire to fly a week earlier and then regained his confidence the following day, was now jumping at the bit to have another flight. Knowing, however, that my balloon can carry ‘Pilot + 2’ and therefore, that we’d have a spare basket space, there was only one possible passenger. It was time to honour my word and get Grant into the air.

Once again, I let my father “take command” of getting the balloon into the air, allowing him to do the hot inflation and take-off, with an agreement that once in the air we’d share the flying between us. Balloonists will pick their launch site based upon the prevailing wind direction. We’ll look to fly from a site that will take us over an area that minimises potential hazards and restricted airspace, while providing the maximum opportunity for a safe landing and thus, enjoyable flight. This morning, the wind was coming from the North West, dictating that we should fly from The Dog House at Frilford Heath, as we’d be heading South East, away from RAF Brize Norton and out over the open South Oxfordshire countryside.

Currently, that countryside is in a state of flux. The signs of the forthcoming harvest are easily apparent as the summer sun strives to ripen crops and fields turn from green to gold. There is even the first hint of the increased landing sites that arrive as an indiscernible pattern of fields start to fall under the combine harvesters gaze. Sadly, though, modern farming practices seem to insist that the plough should lurk ever closer to the combine. The welcoming sight of a stubble field, left for months on end as a residual scar of the harvest, the perfect place to end a jaunt across the sky, long gone. They disappear as quickly as the appear, a distant memory of the pressure free flying they briefly provide.

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

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