The Pig Yard

Balloon inflation

This was a flight for some newly weds - Ross and Paula and was arranged through Jane who works with Paula's mother. The early morning flights although start at some unearthly hour they are the very best. The air is generally clearer and the take off is usually in very light winds however as the time goes by the wind is usually picking up and so the landings can be a little bit fast.

Our Sky 90 balloon is a really easy balloon to inflate and fly because it has spare lift capacity and is very responsive to the burner. The fact that it is our own balloon means we are extremely careful when we fly it to make sure it doesn't get dirty.

Even in the early morning the air can show the level of pollution around, this is more predominant in the summer than in the Spring and Autumn flights when the winds blow the pollution away. This flight during July shows that the fields are full of crop and the number of places available for a landing are difficult to find but there is an inescapable fact that for every flight we've undertaken we've always landed somewhere and after over 300 flights we have never landed in a crop.

It's always great flying alongside other balloons and they throw into perspective your own position in the sky. This shows Dave flying the Central Autos Balloon, CAS, with 12 passengers on board and when Dave left for Australia in October 2004 he was missed in the air and on the ground.

Flying at 1,500 feet

Burning during a flight Although flying is generally very quiet the balloon wouldn't stay in the air for long if there wasn't a burn from time to time. During the flight the top of the balloon gets up to 100 degrees Celsius. Generally the balloon is controlled by burning to stay level or go higher or allow the balloon to cool to descend. To go down faster it's possible to rip out the top parachute for a few seconds to release some hot air. The parachute reseats itself and the balloon descends very quickly. This is where our balloon comes into its own because it can be descending at over 500 feet per minute and with just a few burns it will level out.

The secret of a good landing is to make the approach in level flight and then gradually descend with a few more burns to round out the descent just as it touches the ground. To stop the balloon bouncing it's necessary to rip out the parachute to remove any buoyancy.

When the wind is light the landing should barely crush the grass and when the balloon goes over there is not enough wind to blow out the hot air so it hangs around like a multicoloured monster.

After the landing