In early September each year the grounds man of Wisborough Greens village cricket pitch averts his eyes and crosses his fingers as numerous four wheel drive vehicles with trailers attached attack his turf. The combined members of Mid Hants Balloon Club and Surrey and Sussex Balloon Group are preparing their crafts to raise money for Shooting Star CHASE. This charity supporting local children hospices caring for families with a child or teenager with a life-limiting condition.
A noble cause but not enough to gather so many balloons in one place. The catalyst I would suggest is the event organiser Brian Smith. Any of you that have travelled in a 747 owned by British Airways have probably been flown by a pilot checked out by Brian. And luckily for us balloonists he brought his unique training ability to the sport of hot air ballooning. “Try just relaxing a bit ” he said after I made a complete pigs ear of a final approach “and when you are ready tell me which field you are going for”. This on a final check flight to gain my private license was not what I expected. A second chance.
There are many more stories. All of his humorous and usually told in the Pub over a pint or two. But the fact that he was a member of the seven strong operations team behind the Breightling Orbiter successful circumnavigation of the globe shows his not just a comedian.
Now I am running South Downs ballooning it is payback time. That’s why we took two of our passengers and five charity donators for a hot air balloon ride from Brians field north to friendly Pallinghurst Farm. Many teams as mentioned took off amongst the crowds on the village green. You can see both launch sites in these pictures. And get a feeling for what it is like to fly in a balloon festival. We suggest you check it out next year. If you want to join in give us a call.