Thursday, 31 January 2008

Hot Air & Maize


I first got excited about lighter than air flight, reading Stephen Wilkinson (Lighter Than Air). Just in case you don't have a copy you need to get onto ABE and sort that out. This pic was taken from a "borrowed" HAB we took on a two week expedition around France a few yers ago. The joy of this sort of holiday is in the completely random nature of the itinery, arrived at by morning and evening flights that take you where the wind blows. We actually landed in a Chateau garden, interupting a splendid wedding party, just as the last light was fading, late in to the evening - Louis Roderer Cristal, I recall. Another day we made ourselves surprise breakfast guests at a remote farmstead in the Auvergne and took the 87 year old retainer for a brief tethered flight, he insisted on taking a sheep with him and had previously never left his village let alone the ground. The site of another world he saw from a few hundred feet brought him to tears. Any how, check out Stephen Wilkinson:(30 Oct 1918 Gas Baloon Record Attempt) ... and the only way to keep height and speed was to drop a passenger. To do this at the speed we were travelling seemed an impossibility, but I determined to try it, and one of the "Grand Fleet" was only too glad to make the attempt and, if possible, keep a "date" he had in London that night............ we found a suitable place, and I managed to take the basket through a stiff hedge and the sailor dropped off the edge in a field near Stamford in Lincolnshire. This was most beautifully done, and the jump was made at a height of about three feet during a slight stoppage after passing through the hedge. The "Grand Fleet" rolled over on his back and, recovering waved a cheery farewell as we shot up to 6,000 feet as a result of this loss of "ballast". Frankly, I should imagine the "Fleets" were queuing up to bale out - Wilko was obviously barking. This flight ended in a quarry near Whitby after dragging an "anchor" for several miles in an attempt to avoid being blown out into The North Sea ! They managed 210 miles in a little over 4 hours !!!!!!!!

4 comments:

A F-A said...

Great photo! Err....this Frenchman you took up: you sure he wasn't Welsh? ("he insisted on taking a sheep with him")

Peter Ashley said...

Yes, fantastic pic. It reminds me of the Led Zeppelin compilation CD cover a few years back- shadow of a Zeppelin over crop circles. For more balloon tales of derring-do, try Stories of Balloon Adventures by Frank Mundell (Sunday School Union, 1897).

Philip Wilkinson said...

Only just caught up with this entry. Terrific pic. This Stephen Wilkinson sounds a character. I wonder if he's a relation. Thanks for the link, by the way. I'll make a reciprocal link soon, when the next deadline's past. Off to ABE...

Diplomat said...

ah - yes, Philip the joys of ABE, had to get m'self a fresh copy of Eastern Aproaches last week to replace one I rashly gave to a friend, this copy's in better nick with the maps intact.