Thursday, July 28, 2011

MAB 2011: Wednesday 27 July

I started the day with sleepy eyes and a warm bath at 04.30 a.m. Every day here starts with a one second thought: ‘why am I doing this to myself?’, followed by some mental images of a mass take off at Chambley. Then I realize again that all these early wake ups are definitely worth it. A line up was scheduled for this morning with the aim to set a new world record. It was a wonderful sight to see hundreds of balloons lined up and take off almost simultaneously. My dad made a flight with Austrian balloon pilot Hans Pravda while I stayed with two feet on the ground capturing today’s record attempt. Most balloons eventually disappeared out of sight because of some slight fog while some were still carefully lighted by some shy sunrays. I took a break reading the local newspaper and chatting around with a Dutch balloon spotter who nicknamed himself ‘Scooter Willy’. When Willy decided to hunt for some food I kept myself awake with some Finnish symphonic metal (even though I absolutely don’t like metal; a symphonic touch can do miracles). When my dad came back we joined Tarp and Desiree Head and Peter George’s team drinking beer and champagne while eating chocolate, sausages and cheese. What a lovely breakfast!

The afternoon was rather lazy. After a nap I took a small walk through Pont-a-Mousson. It was quite sunny and warm, but that changed once we got off to the launch area. Sarah and I filled the time we had to wait with our traditional two year update talk; lovely girly gossip once again. Peter invited me to fly with him and his G-UKUK today. Yeah, flight number 50! It was great to share this special milestone with Peter and Sarah, who also joined the flight. After half an hour we had to land because a big grayish cloud was approaching. What a coincidence, the weather was ok everywhere and right above the field and towards our landing spot this massive bad cloud had to appear. Our landing caused a big traffic jam since everyone passing us stopped to make a picture. Some curious French children ran towards us for a small welcome, however, once they heard the burner their scared faced showed up. When hiding behind their mom they were fine again. Isaac, Tarp and Desiree did some good retrieving and found us right away. With some teamwork we packed the balloon within minutes. One French spectator started asking all kind of irrelevant questions. I was unable to answer any of them since I couldn’t stop smiling about his 10 cm zipper being unintentionally opened proudly. I have some difficulties taking persons serious in such a situation. As soon as we closed the trailer it started to rain. What a shower! At the entertainment area of the airbase we eventually found some empty tents. There we built up a little table which we packed with food and drinks. Next to our tent was a ‘free fall simulator’; a huge turbine which makes you feel like flying even though you’re secured with some elastic ropes. That was some great entertainment during the late evening.