As you might have seen last week Colin and the Belvoir Brewery balloon took part in a Guinness World Record attempt as 82 Hot Air Balloons flew across the English Channel. It was a breathtaking sight and the following is Colin’s take on the day…
Entente CordiALE – the journey of the Melton Red
Flight across the channel was amazing with near perfect conditions which involved good direction and wind speed aloft.
82 balloons completed the flight beating the previous record of 49 balloons set (bizarrely) on the same day 6 years ago.
Stayed over in a converted Oast House (where else!) near Canterbury and rose just after 3am to get sorted and arrive at the launch site (Lydden hill race track) 7 miles inland around 4.15am.
Set the balloon up in the dark and had main briefing at 6am.
There were 25 pilots form various European countries who had made the journey over the water the night before to fly back in the World Record breaking attempt.
Before taking off myself and Rowland (co-pilot) adorned our immersion suits and life jackets. Our safety equipment also included life raft, emergency beacon and bottle of Melton Red.
Once the all clear was given the balloon all took off at will taking care not to collide as we climbed towards Dover. Wind speed and Direction was ideal as we were able to steer ourselves during the course of the flight. Our top speed was around 22 mph at 3000ft.
I have flown with many balloons before in international competitions but this was extra special – making such a journey over the sea.
On passing over the coastline into France some miles south of Calais we flew for about 15 mins before landing in a grass filed near the small village of Wadenthun – unfortunately there was no village café/bar to celebrate the completion of our journey. This was done later in Calais!
I used what little French I knew to communicate with the local landowner who was a very helpful and directed our retrieve vehicle a suitable point for us to retrieve our balloon. As a parting gift we left a couple of bottles of Melton Red to show our appreciation.
We caught the 6pm Ferry home and arrived back in Melton Mowbray around 11.30pm.
Colin Brown, Master Brewer and Hot Air Balloon Cross Channel Flight Pilot.
A truly amazing story and many thanks to everybody who worked tirelessly to make this special day happen.