To be able to legally fly fare-paying passengers in this country in a hot air balloon you are required to hold an AOC (Air Operators Certificate) this is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority from Gatwick. However every year we have an office inspection to ensure all licensing, insurance etc conforms to the required operational standards and today Mr Ian Chadwick one of the senior inspectors would be undertaking our ‘Base Audit’. Also he will be flying with us this evening, enabling him to cast his professional eye over our operation. We cannot really complain as the last accompanied flight with a CAA inspector was over eighteen years ago. ‘No Pressure today then’. By 4.00 pm the office was done and dusted with no real issues young Peter our ground crew had cleaned down the Land Rovers and checked all the flight equipment so we departed to meet our passengers at Eccles Hall School. We were soon airborne and started our steady climb to 6,500 feet. Our inspector has on board a lap top computer blue tooth GPS and detailed mapping, giving us a predicted track ;I have never flown with so much technology! The surface wind was quite slow however at this altitude we had a steady 20 mph taking us out over Old Buckingham. Prior to harvest it’s always a bit of a game trying to fine a field with no crop but with a bit of care and attention to detail most things are possible. The key this evening was to avoid any livestock to. Looking down at two bonfires we could see the surface wind was flowing gently in from the east completely opposite from our high altitude track. As we approached the A140 we descended and at 800 feet changed direction and were now heading west. We identified a fallow field margin in the parish of Fundenhall with access up to the road. After one hour an forty minutes in the air we land the air balloon. The crew quickly find the landowner and obtain permission for the retrieve. A collective thumbs up from our passengers and Mr Chadwick, a very positive end to the day. Another positive ballooning experience
Dear Robert Paul & Peter
Many many thanks for the balloon flight on Thursday from Eccles Hall, it was a great experience and I was so impressed by your professionalism: “I’m sorry – everyone – has to listen to the safety talk – especially if they have children with them!” Good for you. Also the way that you dispelled any of our fears and for the brilliant gentle landing in the corner of a field – I still don’t know how you manage to do that.
Again manythanks to you Robert and your crew for a fantastic experience – and I hope that the inspector was kind to you (and I wonder if he gets a commission for selling those computer things?)