My once in a lifetime balloon flight

Hot air ballooning is an activity of flying hot air balloons. The exceptional quiet, (except when the propane burners are firing), the lack of feeling of movement and the Birds-eye-view. Since the balloon moves with the wind, the passengers do not feel, absolutely no wind, except for brief periods during the flight when the balloon climbs or descends into air currents of different directions.  

Before a safe hot air balloon flight can begin, the pilot must check the weather and select a suitable take-off point. People gathered around the balloon, keen to make their contribution by assuring the passengers with comments like “What’s the point of making arrangements to meet after the flight, at the local for a pint, this may be your very last journey? 


“The most difficult part is getting in and out of the basket. It may get a bit breezy, the balloon may bounce a bit, but don’t worry about it, I have got complete control”, said Martin the pilot. He continued “We might be bouncing around a bit, although most of the clouds have gone now, that’s what makes us bounce around”.  

“I’m now going to do some checks and then we are going to take off and fly, but before we do that, we are going to practice a landing position”. “When we come into land the most important thing to do is to get into a position opposite to the way we are flying, get hold of the loops located on the side of the basket, bend your knees lower yourself down, and remember to remove any items from around your body, such as cameras” said Martin. “Any time during the flight if I say “Landing Position” I expect you to get into that position straight away and stay in that position until I tell you to do something else” said the pilot. He continued, “Once we have landed we may tip up and end up with the basket on its side. If you can keep holding on we may drag a little along the ground, or we may land standing up”.

He said “When we have landed make sure you stay in the basket. Do not get out of the basket until I tell you to, because if one of you gets out and the envelope is still inflated the basket will be lighter, we will take off and you will end up in the field with the rest of us ending up in another field” confirmed the pilot.

The take off was calm and steady and we soon reached 1500 feet, although our height varied between 1500 and 2000 feet. Flying at around 4 miles per hour the sensation we experienced was one of sheer amazement and calm.

During our chit–chat with Martin, we learned that he had a flight office in Tuscany. He flew balloons across the Italian countryside as well as the Swiss Alps. Therefore flying balloons at 2000 feet across rural Herefordshire on a calm summer’s evening in April was very different from flying across the Alps, said Martin. He did not have the unpredictable air currents to cope with in Herefordshire. His comments re-assured all of us and we seemed to settle down and relax afterwards.        


Cadburys Chocolate Makers just outside Leominster. No hope of trying chocolate at this factory. Chocolate is prepared in liquid form, shipped to Birmingham and then processed into bars of chocolate.                                


The Herefordshire countryside looks very different from the air. An expanse of green fields, patches of yellow rape seed fields, hamlets and houses scattered amongst the mass of shades of green, yellow and blue!


I cannot find the appropriate words to describe the sheer wonder of my experience. I hope that the attached pictures will illustrate to you our beautiful county.           

Might I say that after landing in an upright position, with all passengers in the basket we assisted the crew to move the envelope and basket unto the trailer? The tracker truck then transported all the passengers from whence we came and to our delight we were greeted, by the pilot and crew, with champagne, handshakes of congratulations and a certificate to each passenger to confirm this balloon flight.

A wonderful personal experience for me!!!!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the team at Herefordshire People’s Advocacy Network for my leaving present and making this flight possible. 

If any our readers have questions they would like to ask please address them to

Ray Danenbergs.