I have ALWAYS wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. I remember staring up at them as a child and wishing I could be in that little floating basket in the sky. My house is in the middle of two of the local balloon flight take-off locations so throughout the summer I get to see them quite often, one nearly landed in our garden once!
So, when I found out that my birthday present from James last year was a hot air balloon flight I was ridiculously excited. It turns out we were super lucky that the first flight we booked onto actually went ahead. We chatted to a couple who had booked over 10 flights and every one had been cancelled last minute because of the weather!
I’d never given much thought to how the balloon got into the air in the first place. It was really interesting to watch the crew lay it out on the grass and inflate it – it’s huge! There was however a moment where everyone started to worry we wouldn’t be able to fly…some of the cords got tangled during set up so the process had to be started again, but it was all ok on our second attempt.
Our flight was at sunrise and the morning light made for beautiful photos. The views from the balloon were great – we had lovely clear skies and could see for miles. We enjoyed trying to pick out places we could recognise and we even saw lots of wildlife, including deer – it was kind of like an ‘English safari!’.
What if I am scared of heights?
I wouldn’t say I am necessarily ‘scared’ of heights, but I’m not the biggest fan of them! I was a little apprehensive as the balloon started to ascend but once we got up it was absolutely fine. It was incredibly calm, smooth, quiet and so relaxing. It is almost dream-like, you can’t quite believe it’s happening and that you’re just relaxing in the sky! If anything, this experience might even be good for curing a fear of heights.
Tip: You might want to wear a hat because the flames above your head are pretty close to you and are really hot! (Obviously).
Where do you land?
Wherever the wind blows you! The pilot obviously does have some control over the balloon but when it comes to landing, you can’t always choose where you end up. Our landing was actually pretty funny, we hit a tree on the way down and landed on the fareway of a golf course! There was a young boy playing an early round of golf with his dad and when we climbed out of the basket in front of him his face was an absolute picture.
After our somewhat bumpy landing we assisted the crew with folding up the balloon and putting it away back inside the basket. The canopy was unbelievably heavy and took a lot of us to lift it. It was great fun to get involved with the whole process.
After packing up we enjoyed some celebratory champagne and were presented with our ‘flight certificates’. We then headed out for some brunch! Where do I sign up for my balloon pilot exams?!
This was a stand-out experience for me and I’d love to do it again, next time on Safari or in Cappadocia! Check out my cousin’s blog on his recent trip to Africa which included an awesome balloon ride over the Serengeti!