A head for heights: Hot air ballooning in Glastonbury, Somerset

A head for heights: Hot air ballooning in Glastonbury, Somerset

The first hot air balloon was invented more than 200 years ago in 1783, when a sheep, a duck and a rooster were launched into the air by French scientist, Pilatre De Rozier.  While the balloon successfully flew, unfortunately it also crashed to the ground after 15 a mere minutes.

 Thankfully, hot air balloon technology has come on since then, and our flight across the Somerset Levels was much smoother – so smooth in fact that I initially hadn’t noticed that the basket had floated several feet off the ground.

Flying in the capable hands of Virgin Balloon pilot, Piers Glydon, we drifted past Glastonbury Tor and enjoyed sweeping views of the Somerset Levels. To avoid disturbing wildlife and livestock a quieter ‘whisper burner’ is used when passing over fields with animals.

Hot air ballooning provides a unique birds-eye view of the countryside. Here are some images I captured last year as I floated past Glastonbury Tor and the Somerset Levels for BBC Countryfile Magazine. 

The silence of ballooning is often remarked upon and other than the occasional roar of the burner, it was almost eerily quiet. However, to avoid disturbing wildlife and livestock a quieter ‘whisper burner’ is used when passing over fields with animals.

It’s all hands to the deck inflating the balloon and getting it ready to fly, with all of the 12 passengers helping the pilot open up the balloon, before the burner is fired up.

Passing near Shepton Mallet

One of the great joys of hot air ballooning is the chance to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the landscape. Unlike an aircraft, ballooning provides an unobstructed 360º panorama, which is a real feast for the eyes.

With a blend of Arthurian legend, medieval history and staggering wildlife, this mysterious wetland landscape is a fascinating place to visit. See more here



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