This was an evening that our forecasters wondered if the wind speed may be a little on ‘ the quick side’ for our Balloon Flight over Norfolk, however the wind would be calming down nicely close to sunset. From an operational point of view these are always tricky flights to call as you only know if the wind speed is going to be within operation limits once you and your passengers are on site! Therefore there was a chance this evening that the pilot may have to stand the flight down on site, rare but it can happen. We opted to use the launch site at Thetford Rugby club as this sits in a shallow valley protected by surrounding trees, this gives more options than an exposed launch site.
We met our passengers on site at 5.00 p.m. prepared the balloon for flight then briefed the family members who were going to follow the balloon on the ground retrieve.
The all important phone call the R.A.F Lakenheath for their clearance and to check the wind speed was made. The wind had dropped and we had a go. The balloon launched with ease and we were soon climbing out over the forest spotting the first herd of Roe deer. On route we flew over Grimes Graves the Neolithic flints mines hidden within the forest. Once out of the forest we crossed south of Northwold and Brookville. We then picked up the river Wissey and flew over the aqueduct just to the south of Stoke Ferry.
As the balloon approached west Dereham the wind started to ease back markedly. Our weather forecasters had been ‘spot on’ we started our approach to land. The balloon came gently to rest at Ryston Park Estates just to the west of Downham Market. The owner Mr Pratt came out to greet the balloon and very kindly gave us permission to retrieve the balloon from his stubble field. What turned out to be a lovely surprise was that the head tractor driver Philip proposed to Joanne now his wife in one of our balloons over three years prior. (Apparently they have only just got married.) Joanne gave the Pilot a big hug. Yes it really was a wonderful end to the day.