We were lucky enough to be part of the Cross Channel balloon flight that took place last Thursday (7th April 2011). The plan was to take off a few miles inland of Dover at Lydden Circuit and fly across to france with upto 75 other balloons. We were originally on standby last October waiting for the right weather conditions and wind direction but they never came together so we started looking at the weather again from the beginning of March. Although we had some lovely ballooning weather in March the winds were never right – the organisers had set a limit of being able to cross the channel in an hour and a half so we need quite specific wind speeds and direction.
We had given up hope of it happening as April arrived but late on Tuesday we got an indication that Thursday was a possibility. We had flights planned here and the weather was good so we must thank the passengers that were scheduled to fly last Thursday for being so understanding of the situation.
So it was an early start as we had to be at the launch site before 6am. We launched at 7.15am and flew across the white cliffs just to the east of Dover. It was a perfect morning with the sun shining and the wind taking us straight across the Channel and we crossed the other side directly over the port of Calais.
Most balloons landed within a few miles of the coast. The conditions were so good and we had so much gas that we flew on for another hour or so and landed just to the south of St Omer. The retrieve crew had only just got on the ferry at Dover when we had landed so we had a while to wait for them. The farmer came out to see us and somehow we managed to communicate that we had a really nice bottle of Whisky in the retrieve for him.
Once Paul and Peter had picked us up we headed back to Calais airport to rendezvous with the other balloonists. The crossing back wasn’t as exciting as the one out!