April 7, 2011 marks the day of another Guinness world record being broken. A total of 50 – count’em 50! – hot air balloons crossed the English channel. Fifty-one started from Wootton, Kent in England – but a technical difficulty halted one of them – and fifty managed to arrive in Calais, France within four hours. Everyone who floated into France is waiting to see if they also floated into the record books. Guinness was going to take a few days to verify the results and determine if they would accept the bid, but it seems as of this writing, they have. It’s official: a new world record! This beats the current record of 35.
According to reports, this organized flight was the idea of a retired policeman by the name of Ian Sharpe, 51, who apparently only took up the sport eight years ago. Everyone had been holding out for the right weather conditions since the beginning of March, but when the call came, balloonists from across Europe, including Italy and Germany showed up.
Newspapers reported on one unique entry in the group, a 61ft dragon-shaped balloon, deemed to be the largest of its kind. Besides its shape being a claim to fame, it also has a glass-bottomed basket.
Press Assocation – Apr 7/2011
Big ballooning world record
Fifty hot air balloons have set a new world record by crossing the English Channel
World Record! Most Hot Air Balloons Crossing The English Channel
BBC – Apr 7/2011
Up, up and away! 50 hot air balloons cross channel (video)
Telegraph – Apr 7/2011
Hot air balloons complete Channel crossing (video)
A total of 51 balloonists took off from Lydden Hill race circuit in Kent at about 7am for the flight to France. It marks the first time a Guinness World Records bid has been made for the largest group of hot air balloons to make the Channel crossing, and competitors have come from across Europe, including Italy and Germany. Among the fleet was a 61ft dragon-shaped balloon, deemed to be the largest of its kind and the only hot air balloon in the UK with a glass-bottomed basket.
Have you tried a hot air balloon ride?
A couple of years ago, I was in Sedona, Arizona and had the opportunity. Yes, I’ve flown before in both large planes and small ones but believe me, what an experience to fly in a balloon.
my blog: Sedona: Hot Air Ballooning
Silence reigned. This is the most striking feature of the flight that I remember. From time to time the pilot warmed the air in the balloon and we could all hear the swoosh of the propane burner but other than that, silence. We were floating in the air as if by magic. No plane, no rope, no other way to explain how we were hundreds of meters above the ground.
I have been in small planes over the years and of course, have been thrilled with flying. However, this experience has always been connected to a small plane, something which is noisy. In contrast, the balloon is totally silent. To stand in the basket and look around as you float with an incredible degree of calm and tranquillity without the noise of a propeller engine is a truly amazing experience. This seems strange to say but it is magic! Where is David Copperfield?
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