This balloon trip over west Norfolk proved to be quite challenging from a pilots point of view. Our forecasts indicated that the wind would be very light this evening. Our passengers were all local to this part of the county so we launched from our base at Wendling. We were soon aloft at 7.20 p.m. on a lovely evening. Up to 1,000 feet we were heading 280 degrees at 10 m.ph. At 3,000 feet our track had changed to 030 degrees at 14 m.p.h. This is always very useful as it gives the pilot the ability to steer the balloon by altering your altitude. The knack is, to use this ‘steerage’ to find the ideal field to land in. Which means at this time of year NOT A FARMERS CROP. We flew over Great Dunham and to the North of Swaffahm.
High above Castle Acre the Peddars Way was very clearly defined from North Pickenham all the way to Holme next the sea. This is the old Roman road that would have been the direct link to the Garrison town of Colchester. All of west Norfolk was well in view. Kings Lynn to our west and the Lincolnshire coast. Burnham Market, Holkham and Tring to mention but a few beautiful Norfolk villages. We remained high until we passed north of Great Massingham due to the density of outdoor livestock units. Every effort must be made not to frighten any livestock on the ground. Two fields were spotted three miles to our west which looked to be good. Descend now!! at 600 feet we had turned to the left by some 120 degrees we had lined up our fields perfectly, a harvested parsnip field and wet straw. We’re down with a bump and a drag on top of a hill south of Harpley Dams.
We were about a mile or so away from the road so the retrieve would be tricky this evening. The farmer had been located and gave us permission to collect the balloon. The crew arrived and the balloon was packed up on the trailer. One thing we had not appreciated was how wet the field was, as there had been a lot of rain the day prior. Thank goodness we operate Land Rover defenders which got us of the field and down the muddy tracks with diff lock in, lots of engine revs and gritted teeth back to the road; and the awaiting families (JUST)