It all started many months ago. The company, Exclusive Ballooning, sent an intriguing e mail asking if we would like to take part in a cross London flight. It would be in aid of The Lord Mayor’s charity and all those interested should apply.
I knew it would involve a huge amount of work for them. For instance, they needed to liaise with the air authorities and air traffic control to allow it to go ahead. The skies above London are busy places. It was too exciting an opportunity to ignore!
We were thrilled when the pilot we fly with was given a place
Put on standby for a few weekends over June, we had to be ready to leave at very short notice. The weather forecast was deemed ideal for the weekend of the 7th of June, so we got ourselves ready – just in case.
On the evening of the 6th we went to bed to get a few hours sleep but we were all too excited to get much. Given the go ahead, we got up, a few short hours later, at midnight. We had to be in Hackney for 3.30am to be ready to take off as dawn broke over the city. Unbelievably, the traffic in London at that uncivilised hour was still bad. Clubbers and workers alike were all buzzing about.
It certainly lives up to its title of ‘the city that never sleeps'
The okay was given for the launch as the sun came up over Hackney Leisure Centre. The fans were started, hopefully not waking up too many of those who overlooked the park, the balloons inflated and up into the skies we rose.
I cannot describe the views. It was amazing. ‘Oh my God, this is fantastic!’ was all I could manage for most of the flight
There was a limited height we could fly at but it was all just perfect. We flew south between Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf with views of the Thames, eastwards towards the barrier, and west towards the Houses of Parliament. I never realised how much the river twisted through the city.
Flying south meant we landed in Kent near Orpington - safe and well. There were over 40 balloons flying and a huge amount of money was raised for the charity – so it achieved its intended goal.