Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ Hopping Down Memory Lane

Having finally broken my slightly extended break from flying, I am for a number of reasons, essentially “making hay while the sunshine” and flying virtually every chance there is and definitely every chance I get. And so, with July announcing its arrival with a stunningly beautiful, and pleasing warm day that lead into an almost perfect evening for flying it seemed rude not to take to the skies of my home county for the third time in a week.

The flight, which turned out to be as glorious as the conditions gave expectation to, will forever now be etched into my memory for the personal trip down memory lane it also provided. Aside from a few hours watching cold food in the cinema, yesterday was already a very good day for me personally and this flight just became the cherry on top of everything that was right in the world. Bakewell had nothing on me yesterday!

G-CEGG - 01-07-14PM - Takeoff - Closeup

Once again, the wind was coming from the East allowing me to fly from my home village, and so, taking off a few minutes later than planned, I climbed slowly up, away from the ground initially hardly moving before suddenly picking up speed as I reached the top of the natural valley in which Goring & Streatley sits. With the wind tracking slightly further North than 7 days ago, I was instead treated to a route that took me directly over both the house I first lived in, as well as, the site where the house I spent most of my childhood in used to reside. Its current occupiers, for me at least, sadly knocking it down a few years ago to allow them to build their dream family home. The whole time also being able to see both my, and my parent’s, current homes – albeit on different sides of the river. I think it’s far to say I’ve never really flown very far from the nest aside from in a balloon.

As the village started to disappear behind me, the trip through my life continued as the farm where we store our kit came into view looking splendid in the evening sunshine. The animals which share it with a couple of larges bag of fabric slowly settling in to their evening meals, no doubt wondering what that madman in his flying machine was up to now. Climbing up to ensure that I didn’t disturb them, after all, nobody likes interruptions when they’re eating, I suddenly found that rather than the tradition veering with altitude – right with height as the expression goes – I was tracking left. I was backing. My line was not out over the open Berkshire Downs but rather, straight towards the village of Compton. My old stomping ground. And the location of the school where I spent 7 happy years undertaking Secondary and A-Level schooling. If the left continued, potentially, the school playing fields would be on my course and the ultimate landing site.

G-CEGG - 01-07-14PM - Takeoff

I decided that I needed to get as much left as possible. I needed a track that had enough space that if as I came down I started to go right I wouldn’t be pushed off course and miss the school. So, I made a decision to drop the ‘hopper right to the surface and use the natural lay of the land to essentially “push” the balloon more to the left and buy my the extra room I wanted. Flying literally inches above the crop the land worked it’s magic and the left increased. Keeping low as I approached Compton, and using pure local knowledge I could see that I sadly hadn’t quite got enough left. The school playing fields would be just out of reach. If I carried on to reach them I’d cross what was the Geography block and Tennis Courts (The Cage as we called it), however, local knowledge is a useful thing, because while the School sat just to my left, Compton Recreation Ground sat bang in front of me! It might not have been the perfect way to round off the trip through my life that a landing at the school would have provided, but I spent just as many happy lunchtimes playing on the swings, and see-saw that it’s was more than an adequate second. In fact, the Recreation Ground looked so much like time has passed it by in compression to the mass of building work that’s taken place at the school, that it’s almost a better fit and a more accurate conclusion to the memories I have and the flight I had.

G-CEGG - Flight Track - 1st July 2014 PM

Photographs © James Dobson

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

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