Saturday 18 November 2017

Balloonists celebrate Channel feat

A total of 51 balloonists set off to cross the Channel
A total of 51 balloonists set off to cross the Channel
Hot air balloons take off from Lydden Hill Race Circuit near Canterbury, Kent
Hot air balloons take off from Lydden Hill Race Circuit near Canterbury

A world record is set to be confirmed after the largest number of hot air balloons crossed the English Channel to France.

A 50-strong fleet of hot air balloons journeyed over the Dover Strait - one of the busiest waterways in the world - within four hours of setting off.

One balloon had to abandon the flight just before the Channel due to technical problems. But for those adventurers that made it, Champagne corks were popped in celebration on the French side.

The balloonists took flight from Lydden Hill race circuit in Kent for the first official Guinness World Records bid for the largest group of hot air balloons to make the Channel crossing.

All landed safely in and around Calais, with some balloonists completing the challenge in around an hour. The record is now subject to verification within the next few days by Guinness World Records, according to the event sponsors Palletways.

The colourful fleet included a 61ft dragon-shaped balloon, deemed to be the largest of its kind and the only hot air balloon in the UK with a glass-bottomed basket.

On board was Paul Komuro, marketing consultant for Palletways, who said he felt exhilarated after landing in France amid clear skies and bright sunshine.

Mr Komuro, 35, said: "From the glass-bottomed basket, I could see the ships in the Channel as well other balloon crews and the White Cliffs of Dover. It was amazing to have a 360 degree view throughout the whole journey. We are really proud to have done it. The weather was fantastic. It was just right for us.

"As we came into Calais there was lovely sunshine. It was quite an exhilarating experience and something I'll remember for a long time to come."

The record attempt was the brainchild of retired police officer Ian Sharpe, from Caterham, Surrey. He said: "We have opened several bottles of Champagne in celebration and we are pleased to have made it. It's a great feeling."

Press Association

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