I have flown in lots of different aircraft but never a balloon, so I jumped at the chance when I got the offer of a balloon flight.
The season for the Virgin Balloon Flights is coming to an end and basically they needed, self-loading, non-screaming ballast and so I got the job, not that I minded. If you want that kind of ballast then I’m yer man, nae problemo.
We all met up at the North Inch at Perth, Inch being a Scots word for island, in this case it was a flood plain and now a public park. A clan battle was fought here in September 1396. it’s an interesting story – Battle of the North Inch
Conditions were marginal the ceiling was at 2,000 maybe 3,000 feet with some fog on the back of Kinnoul Hill and to cut a long story short the pilot decided to go up for a flight to see if improves or land if it doesn’t.
Time to get the toy out of the box and get cracking.
The basket was unloaded and the rigging lines attached to the basket and the envelope was dragged out behind the support vehicle.
The envelope is first inflated with cold air, which is provided by two strong portable fans. It does rely on audience participation…
This is the most spectacular phase, the envelope is full and it is time to start replacing the cold air with some host stuff.
… and we are off over the Tay and the Bridgend district of Perth. The large house on the middle ground on the left hand side was once owned by Arthur Bell of Bell’s Whiskey. He left the house to the people of Perth and is now an old folks home.
An early morning visitor, this PDG Dauphin passed over North Muirton, probably heading for Cumbernauld
It became apparent that the conditions were not going to improve and very obvious that we could not continue, so it was time to look for a field to put down into.
We landed and it was time to deflate the envelope by opening the valve on the top of the envelope to let the hot air out.
The ground handling lines attached to the top of the envelope were in unhitched and someone had to go out and guide the envelope down into a straight line and it made the next stage easier and it’s not a good idea to have the lot collapse over our heads while we were still in the basket.
Ever wondered where JK got the idea for the Dementor’s in the Harry Potter stories?
It’s just about all out.
The envelope was gathered up into a line, the air was squeezed out and ready to be put into the bag.
It’s quite a tall-order to get so much envelope into the bag and at times its quite heavy going as the envelope has to be manhandled into the bag, then the bag has to be dragged along and more envelope has to be lifted in before all of in the bag.
My thanks to the Virgin balloon team for their hospitality