Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta is in full swing, with two colourful and spectacular take-offs so far.
Big crowds gathered to watch the first of those mass balloon launches yesterday evening (Friday). But what’s it like to ride away from Knavesmire in one of those amazing hot air balloons?
YorkMix was given the chance to find out…
The fiesta organisers kindly offered us a place in a balloon last night. We went up with Hugo Hall of Fly Away Ballooning, based in Taunton, Somerset.
He is the third generation of balloonists in his family.
Along with Hugo in our balloon were Virginia – another very experienced balloonist who is originally from France but who now lives in London – and Emily Horner, a reporter from the York Press.
Before we took off it was all hands to the pumps as Hugo asked us to hold the balloon envelope, as he filled it with cold air from a fan, then heated the air with the flames from the burner.
Next we all clambered into the basket – and were off! The ground quickly disappeared from beneath us and we were treated to a fantastic view of the fiesta showground, complete with its giant wheel which now looked like a child’s toy.
Thanks to a brisk wind we were soon zipping along. But the ride was incredibly smooth – we hardly felt we were moving. And the silence – occasionally interrupted by the roar of the burner – added to the dreamlike quality of the journey.
The breeze propelled us over the racecourse, across the A64 and down the river to Bishopthorpe. We had amazing views of York Marina and Naburn Lock, before landing in a farmer’s field close to the Cross Keys pub in Stillingfleet.
Now the landing is something else! Because of the wind we ended up with the basket on its side and clinging upside down to the inner rope handles as we bumped and skidded to a stop.
What a rush! Our thanks to Hugo and Virginia, and Alex who drove the truck. If you get a chance to go in a hot air balloon – take it! And enjoy the rest of the fiesta, which runs on Knavesmire until Monday.