Monday, August 16, 2010

Glass-bottomed hot air balloon makes maiden flight

Wicker baskets never feel like the safest material to hold you when soaring through the skies – but at least you can’t see through them. If you want a truly heart-stopping ride, take a trip on the world’s first glass-bottomed hot air balloon, which took its maiden flight on Thursday.

Photo from SWNS.

Floating high above Bath in Somerset, lucky passenger Jo Chambers had just 5cm (2in) of glass separating her from, well, nothing. ‘It was absolutely incredible and offered a beautiful view,’ said the 31-year-old, before adding what she really thought: ‘It was unnerving and the basket creaked slightly, which was slightly disconcerting.’

The Palletways Dragon balloon was the brainchild of pilot Christian Brown, who has 18 years’ experience flying balloons but still thought the flight was a ‘terrifying experience’. ‘We’ve done tethered trials before, which usually end with passengers shrieking and screaming in fear, but this is the first time we’ve actually taken to the skies unaided,’ he said.

‘Ordinarily, you would look over the edge of the basket to peer at the ground but there is something very disconcerting about seeing it right beneath your feet.’ The balloon was designed by Shropshire-based Lindstrand Balloons and flew to mark the start of the 2010 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. It is hoped the balloons will be more widely available next year.

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