I experienced Lighter Than Air flight for the first time from beautiful Leeds Castle in the heart of the Kent countryside, I enjoyed this fabulous experience courtesy of Airborne Balloon Flights. The evening was glorious, with only a light wind:
The balloon fabric is rolled out on the lawn facing the castle and moat and then filled with air until it forms a giant silken cocoon. It is then bombarded with heat from the gas torches and it begins to rise up from the lawn to an upright position. We are instructed to climb inside the giant wicker basket weighing it down like so many sacks of potatoes. The heating by the torches continues, but now straight up into the balloon.
We begin to rise, so smoothly and quickly it is as if we are stationary while the earth is falling away beneath us. Everything is shrinking as we see the world through the wrong end of a telescope.
I marvel at the three-dimensional display brought into view; from flat fields to a bird’s eye panorama of the Kent countryside. The majestic presence of ancient Leeds Castle marooned on its island by the surrounding lake takes centre stage, as if it had popped up from a book of wonderful fairy tales.
Below me is a scattered patchwork pattern of fields, coloured by crop or pasture in greens and golds, or the soft rainbow shades of wildflowers from fields in fallow. Church spires and rooftops stand on their heads while lanes meander joining the dotted hamlets and farms. On the ground, animals and people move in miniature and one person is insignificant.
Now I feel the sensation of being out of body, for I am weightless, suspended in the sky, defying gravity. It is far from deathly for I could not feel more alive than in this moment. Above is clear azure blue and the horizon encircles our tiny floating basket encompassing us. On every side it is stretching away, it would seem, to the ends of the earth.
If you would like to enjoy The Balloon Experience with Airborne Balloon Flights go to: http://www.airborneballoons.co.uk