After a long, weather-challenging Spring, Allie, who recently received a gas-ballooning award from the Duke of Edinburgh at Saint James’ Palace, finally got a chance to fly a few weeks ago.
Whenever and wherever she flies, Allie always tries to invite girls and women to discover the joys of flying. Here is how the flight went in her own words.
“After weeks and weeks of being grounded because of strong winds, there was finally a flyable weekend on the horizon and I was determined to make the most out of it! I started with getting my hopper (one person balloon ) G-HEXE (in German this means ‘the witch’) out of her bag and flew her in very slow winds gently across the city only to land in a crematorium after an hour’s flight!
The next morning I was to let our ‘Road to Mandalay’ balloon out of its prison. This balloon can carry pilot plus 2 in the summer (plus 3 in winter), so I had invited my neighbour Kyla and friend Rachel for testing the skies with me. The sun rose over a beautiful clear countryside and we were soon airborne on a gentle westerly track.
Flying in this direction from Bristol isn’t easy as you can only track in a very narrow band of airspace and if you don’t find anywhere to land after 12miles you will end up with wet feet in the Bristol channel! But winds were perfect this morning and I ventured us into a huge quarry. Rising like the sun out of it I showed the girls how you can fly really low over trees and fields. So we skimmed the tree tops, spotted deer and rabbits and waved at the first early morning golfers. Steerage being perfect in different altitudes I managed to fly us right over the National Trust property Tyntesfield – a just recently restored beautiful Manor house. There is no other way you could get aerial shots like this! It was stunning!
I now had to gradually think of my landing options as we came closer towards the last town before the sea, Nailsea. Heading for three different grass playing fields I ended up missing all of them! Bad luck or what? But the winds were indeed now changing and probably already getting slightly thermic as directions wouldn’t comply anymore with what they were earlier on in the flight. The last good place I know of to land was a rugby pitch just outside the town, but even here: I was perfectly lined up to land, but 20meters before the field I was taken to the right, straight towards huge power lines! In those moments you wish you were an airship or had some kind of an engine to steer you!
At the mercy of whatever strange winds we had now I had to fly on towards the wet marshes. A difficult area as every field had either horses, sheep, cattle or power lines! In the end I finally found a nice grass field and landed safely after 1 hour and 40mins! What a challenging but wonderful flight!
We celebrated with proper Champagne (one of the best things in ballooning!) and a lovely picnic in the field. I baptized the girls as “Duchesses of the gentle winds above forests, fields and farms around Tyntesfield and Nailsea”. They will have to remember their title for the rest of their lives and if they forget when asked they must buy a round! Let’s hope they remember it!”
Thanks for sharing your great flight with us, Allie.