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Winter Hot Air Balloon Flights in France

To keep our company pilots complaint with safety regulations, we have to have flown on a regular basis. As the UK ballooning season is April to October, there is quite a long time when pilots can get rusty. To overcome this some balloonists go abroad and do some winter flying for fun so this year we thought we would join them. En route to a balloon festival in Italy we stopped over for a few days in the French Alps. Taking the small "Happy Birthday" balloon pilot Kim Hull realised it might be possible to fly on his birthday.

Preparing the balloon on a snow covered football playing field in France Snow on the bottom of the balloon basket as we take off - Its normally mud when we fly in England. Balloon shadow on snow Aerial view of French Alpine ski resort Samoens
Click photos to enlarge

Flying a hot air balloon in a mountainous area covered in deep snow can have its attractions, certainly very photogenic, but you need good preparation and planning to make sure nothing goes wrong - like being stuck on a mountain overnight because you run out of fuel! Just like our passengers Kim suffered from a few days that were cancelled due to the weather until our French ballooning contact told us "tomorrow would be superb" with the emphasis on "superb" that only a French accent can provide.

A perfect landing 50 metre from our friends house in our hot air balloon

Sure enough the previous days of low cloud and valley mists gave way to stunning blue skies and light winds. Taking off from the towns football pitch, pre-arranged with the Mayor, the balloon flight took us across town and a landing outside our friend's house. "You could not have planned that if you wanted to" said Kim, "The balloon only goes where the wind takes it, but there was some control possible because of the variation of the winds in the valley with height, but these can be fickle. Having changed passengers the second leg of the flight ended up with a landing in front of a new house just built and occupied by a family whose son is a balloonist in Brittany. So of course we were invited in for coffee."

Adventure Balloons Ltd, Winchfield Park, London Road, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, RG27 8HY.
Reg No 4837166

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