LOOKING FOR SOMEWHERE TO LAND
People came out of their houses and waved and shouted up to us
as we passed low over the town. We could hear them clearly and
they could hear us too, as the ballon is virtually silent when
its burners are not in operation.
As we flew across Warwick looking for somewhere to land, we came
close enough to this tree for the basket to brush against it.
Apparently if really pushed for space a pilot can deliberately
do this, allowing the balloon to swing forward so that a quick
yank on the red hawser that controls the main vents at the top
of the envelope will allow a controlled descent into the space
right next to the tree. Our pilot had once pulled off this stunt
and successfully landed in a layby, where police obligingly arived
to cordon him off minutes later, but we knew of a bigger target a
bit further north, so we flew on low above the town.
As we neared the ground the wind carried us between these two
trees, towards our landing place, and we ducked into the basket
with our heads against the padded lips of the compartments we
were in, feet and arms braced, ready to return to earth...
Phew, we were down - the ballon bounced twice, before settling
to earth, and it was a while before Roger gave us permission to
emerge from our crouched positions, low in the basket. He warned
us - belatedly - that there was a risk that the basket might yet
be caught by the wind and overturn, but this did not happen. The
envelope rapidly deflated, and we straightened up. Soon we were
able to get out, two by two from opposite sides, without fear
that the others would be swept back up into the air.
Packing up after the flight