Flight Report: G-CDYL ~ Marching Over South Oxfordshire & West Berkshire

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton

Hot air ballooning is a very weather dependant activity and unfortunately some people can arrange balloon flight after flight only for it to be cancelled as the weather puts play to safe flight. For others, it sometimes just happens that you are in the right place at the right time and take to the skies at the first time of asking.

Chris Aram, an old school friend, was in exactly that situation when he rang me on a Friday afternoon to ask if would be possible to organise a last minute balloon flight for himself and his wife Hayley that weekend. High pressure was building across the UK and while Saturday looked windy, Sunday would be flyable.
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Growing Old Gracefully

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

It seemed appropriate, that on the day Ordnance Survey’s flying unit moved to a new home at East Midlands Airport, that their old cloudhopper hot air balloon be inflated, to mark the occasion!

In fact, while we had read the BBC article earlier in day, the inflation wasn’t specifically done to mark the event. Ordnance Survey ran 2 hot air balloons commercially during the late 1990s to promote the brand and to be able to offer corporate hospitality flights to clients, staff, and the press. They finished using the balloons when they were no longer flyable and as a result, they came into our care and are now stored in our barn. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ February Fun In The Sun Over Berkshire And Oxfordshire

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

February 2012 will be remembered as the month that couldn’t make up its mind. Two weeks ago and there was snow on the ground, gritting lorries working over-time and temperatures plummeting a long long way below zero.

Fast forward, and we were looking at an unseasonal heat wave. A large area of high pressure dominated the weather charts pushing temperatures in the high teens, two or three times the season average, and bringing settled, sunny days and clear overnight skies. The perfect ballooning weather. Read more

Flight Report: G-CDYL ~ The Brrrrr-fect Way To Start 2012!

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton

It is possible to fly a hot air balloon throughout the year, flying is simply controlled by the weather. As a result, you won’t see many hot air balloons flying during the winter months simply because the weather is usually unsettled bringing high winds and rain. However, from time to time, a high-pressure system will arrive over the UK plummeting the temperature, bringing overnight frosts, low lying mist, and light winds.

While few and far between, winter flying can be visually one of the most beautiful conditions to fly in, and so with a small ridge of high pressure covering the UK I jumped at the chance to fly and get 2012s flying underway. The other nice thing about winter ballooning is that, due to the lack of thermal activity, you don’t get the gusting winds during the day that you get in the summer. This means that you can fly at virtually any time of the day, or go for a longer flight than normal. Read more

Flight Report: G-CDYL ~ Jo & Ben Fly Over The Thames Valley

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton

The weather recently has been rather confusing. At a time of year when people start to think about putting the heating on in their houses and digging out that winter blanket the UK has been basking in a true Indian summer. With beautifully clear blue skies and high pressure bringing light winds and perfect balloon conditions to the area, there have been ample opportunities to take to the skies.

During the summer an old school friend had contacted me to ask whether it would be possible to surprise her boyfriend with a flight for their 1 year anniversary. The weather annoyingly didn’t play ball and as a result, high winds and rain put pay to being able to fly them on the actual day. Read more

Flight Report: G-ODAD ~ Keeping It In The Family

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

One of the most commonly asked questions you get as a balloon pilot is simply “How did you get into ballooning?”. I have an equally simple answer – my father, James, is also a pilot! I grew up going ballooning with my dad. Becoming more and more passionate and, to some extent, obsessed with each passing flight.

My father now flies for fun rather than commercially enjoying what he describes as his “ballooning retirement” flying family and friends, while also helping people learn to fly in his role as a BBAC appointed Instructor.
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Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ A Few Days Hopping Clouds

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

We’ve reached that time of year when the weather starts to take a turn for the worse and people begin to reach for the bobble hats and woolly jumpers. Hot air ballooning is a year-round activity but being weather dependent, the chances to fly become fewer and fewer as winter takes hold and our weather becomes wetter and more unpredictable.

This means that when flyable weather does appear, you grab it with both hands. Last week was a perfect example of this, with a number of flyable slots appearing during the week; the chance to get in the sky was too much to turn down. Read more

Taking A Dog For A Walk In Bristol

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

Each year in August, Bristol plays host to the UK’s largest hot air balloon meet. With over 100 balloons and 500,000 spectators, the largest free outdoor event in the UK, from a ballooning point of view it’s simply 4 long days entertaining clients and the public alike over the skies of Bristol.

For the past 3 years I’ve been attending Bristol, as the pilot of the Churchill Dog special shape hot air balloon on behalf of Airship & Balloon Company who operate him commercially for Churchill Insurance. While he is currently only tethering (where he is tied to vehicles and doesn’t actually take off) to gain as much media and brand exposure as possible, he is still as spectacular as every, and as hard to pack away!

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The Streatley Nightglow Is A Roaring Success

Posted on by 5WC in Choc Dips, Hot Air Ballooning

Every August balloonists from all over the Thames Valley descend on Streatley Recreation Ground to inflate their balloons at dusk when they glow like giant lightbulbs for the enjoyment of the local villagers.

Steatley Glow 2011

The nightglow was orginally started as a way for the local balloonist to say thank you to the village for allowing us to fly from the Recreation Ground but, over the last few years, has grown in size, to a point where it is a real focal event for the village with hundreds of people turning out and a BBQ that always runs of out food. Read more

Lucozade Says YES To Crystal Palace

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

In the same way that there are many different types and sizes of car, there are as many diferent types and sizes of hot air balloons. For me, one of my absolutely favourites, are the small one man balloons known as cloudhoppers. Where the traditional wicker basket is replaced with a simple seat for the pilot.

Lucozade are currently using a cloudhopper to advertise their YES campaign as they feel the small, sleek image better fits their active brand, and I spent two days tethering the balloon at the National Sports Center, Crystal Palace for the Aviva London Athletics Grand Prix.

Lucozade Crystal Palace 01

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