About hundred hot air balloon pilots are getting ready for a mass crossing of the English Channel this Friday, if the weather cooperates.
Datum RPO, who are backing the project and will lead the fleet, have updated the status from “standby” (since March 5th) to an “Amber Alert” for Friday morning, March 17th.
The 100-strong fleet of hot air balloons will take off from Dover, rising above the iconic white cliffs to catch the onwards breeze to France. During their journey across, balloon pilots will be navigating under a major flight path to and from mainland Europe. The English Channel is also the busiest shipping lane in the world.
Organized by leading aerial marketing specialist Exclusive Ballooning, this mass crossing is set for a Guinness World Record, and will smash the existing world record set in 2011, which had 49 balloons fly across the channel.
Andrew Holly, Operations Director for Exclusive Ballooning, who floated into the Guinness World Records recently, for another feat—the first to successfully fly a hot-air balloon in all 50 U.S states—will also take part. He says, “I’m always asked about my favorite flights, having flown for 20 years all over the world. Without doubt, the channel crossing flight in 2011 is my number one and the opportunity to repeat this was just too tempting. We’re delighted to be able to share this experience with so many other friends and balloonists and also give the opportunity to those new younger pilots who were not eligible to take part in 2011. We are delighted to announce that we now have over 100 balloons participating in The Datum RPO World Record Cross Channel Flight.”
James Strickland, Group Director at Datum RPO says, “Having flown balloons all over the world, taking part in cross-channel flight in 2011, I can honestly say there is nothing quite like it, it was truly amazing.
Crossing one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, in a hot air balloon is a unique and amazing experience, especially in an immersion suit. This event brings out the adventurer in me and I’m looking forward to this intrepid experience again.”
The event will raise thousands of pounds for charity.
The first aerial crossing of the English Channel by a balloon took place on January 7, 1785, when the courageous and skilled French ballooning pioneer, Jean-Pierre Blanchard and his American sponsor, Dr. John Jeffries flew from Dover, England to Calais, France. The pair had flown in a hydrogen filled balloon.
Top image: James Strickland (left), Group Director at Datum RPO and Ashley Moore (Right)
Photo Courtesy: Exclusive Ballooning