Flight Report: G-ISOB ~ 17th July 2017

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!

Tom Reddy had offered to crew for me as a Thank You for the flight a month or so earlier, and with the wind forecast to be a North Easterly, launching from Streatley Recreation Ground seemed obvious as it would take me South West, down towards Hermitage and Newbury. After both previously flights in G-ISOB I’ve felt the balloon hasn’t flown as well as I’d expected, It felt like it needed constant watching, that rather than sit tightly in level flight that it was always twitching to start descending. Speaking to Cameron Balloons (who made the balloon) about it, they’d suggested it was being caused by the amount of excess lift the balloon had reducing the flying pressure in the envelope and allowing the parachute to fail to form a perfect seal when flying. This seemed like a sensible explanation, and so, I made a conscious decision that during this flight I’d watch and listen to what effect adding heat to the envelope had on the parachute.

As I ascended from the Recreation Ground under fairly grey skies, it was obvious the forecast was correct, I was heading on my expected track towards the South West. Continuing to climb, to allow me to safely clear Streatley Hill, it became apparent that the winds would provide very little steerage and that my track tonight would be virtually a straight line from take-off to landing.

Whilst flying without much wind steerage can be tricky when it comes to manoeuvring the balloon to a suitable landing site, it does remove the worry about having your flying levels dictated by future plans. You can drop low or climb high as your mood fancies safe in the knowledge you’re not going to end up flying away from a track you’d prefer to take. This meant that when I reached the open countryside between Streatley, Aldworth and Ashampstead I knew I could safely drop it low the expanse of maturing crop and hop over any woods on my path at a height where I could pluck a leaf or two if I’d chosen.

Posted on by 5WC in Beat, Hot Air Ballooning Updated On: 29th September 2019

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