Hot Air Balloons, 2011 English Channel Guinness World Records Bid, Dover, Kent, UK

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Comments (16)

Bronson Waite on April 8, 2011

Wow! Very nice! Hot air balloon looks fun!

John Latter on April 8, 2011

Bronson Waite, on April 8th, 2011, said:

Wow! Very nice! Hot air balloon looks fun!

It certainly does, Bronson!

Regards from Dover, England.


John Latter on April 8, 2011

At approximately 6.45 am on Thursday, April the 7th, 2011, I spotted a single hot air balloon floating over the north of Dover while cycling along the seafront on the first of my morning Robsons Yard - Eastern Docks - Prince of Wales Pier - Robsons Yard circuits of town.

By the time the main bulk of the air armada arrived, I had finished the second lap and made my way east of Dover Castle to the Coastguard Station on the White Cliffs of Dover where I was just in time to take this 7.35 am photo of all but a couple of strays as the hot air balloons began crossing the English Channel en route to Calais in France.

The cross-channel ferry towards bottom-right, owned by P and O Ferries, is making its way to the Eastern Docks of Dover Harbour.

Later in the day, the following news report appeared online (1):

A world record-breaking attempt began today for the largest number of hot air balloons to cross the English Channel.

A total of 51 balloonists took off from Lydden Hill race circuit in Kent for the estimated four-hour flight to France at about 7am (video of take-off).

It marks the first time a Guinness World Records bid has been made for the largest group of hot air balloons to make the Channel crossing, and competitors have come from across Europe, including Italy and Germany.

Among the fleet was 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.

One of the competitors, Paul Komuro, from main sponsor Palletways, said: "People have come from across Europe at short notice to take part in this.

"We got notification late yesterday that the weather conditions were ideal and so we decided to make a go of it.

"To get the number of balloons that we have mobilised in under 24 hours is a real achievement.

"The weather conditions are perfect, there's not a cloud in the sky and there is a real sense of excitement amongst us about flying to France and hopefully breaking the record."

The record attempt is the brainchild of retired police officer Ian Sharpe, who abandoned motorbiking to take up ballooning as a hobby eight years ago.

He flies mostly in the skies above Kent, Sussex and Surrey, and six years ago flew across the Channel in less than an hour.

Before take off, Mr Sharpe, 51, from Caterham, Surrey, said: "We are at the mercy of the wind.

"What would be perfect is if everyone landed within a few miles of each other at Calais but the truth is we don't know exactly where we are going to land."

He added: "Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the first modern hot air balloon flight and I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate such a significant milestone."

Sponsorship from the bid will go to three charities, including the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution - see Lifeboat photos), the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, and the Halow Project, which supports young people with learning disabilities.

The square dragon-shaped balloon mentioned in the news report, owned by Palletways, is called "Slick" and is third from left in the above photo (registration letters: G-PLLT).

The largest balloon, right of top-centre, has registration letters G-PSAX (Lindstrand LBL -77B) and is an aircraft made by Lindstrand Balloons who have been manufacturing hot air balloons since 1975. The colours and designs of a number of other balloons can be made out under higher magnifications.

BBC News (2) reported that fifty-one balloons started the attempt, organised by Airborne Balloon Flights, but one had to abandon the flight just before the English Channel because of technical difficulties and that Guinness World Records is due to verify the attempt within the next few days.

The first clearly recorded instance of a balloon carrying passengers used hot air to generate buoyancy and was built by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first tethered balloon flight with humans on board took place on Sunday, October 19th, 1783 with the scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier (Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier), the manufacture manager, Jean-Baptiste Réveillon (Jean-Baptiste Reveillon)and Giroud de Villette, at the Folie Titon in Paris. (3)

The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft. On Friday, November the 21st, 1783, in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d`Arlandes (Francois Laurent d'Arlandes) in a hot air balloon created on Saturday, December the 14th, 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind are known as airships or, more specifically, thermal airships. (4)

On Friday, January 7th, 1785 Jean-Pierre François Blanchard (Jean-Pierre Francois Blanchard) and John Jeffries, an American doctor, made the first trip across the English Channel in a hydrogen balloon in a trip that took two and a half hours. During this trip, the balloon unexpectedly lost gas and almost fell into the sea. Only by throwing all of their ballast and most of their clothing into the Channel did they manage to stay in the air. The two aeronauts were forced to heave all cargo overboard except the package of the first international airmail, delivered successfully upon their safe landing in the Felmores Forest, France. (5)

The first modern hot air balloon was designed and built in 1960 by Ed Yost. He made the first free flight of such an aircraft in Bruning, Nebraska on Saturday, October 22nd, 1960. Initially equipped with a plastic envelope and kerosene fuel, Yost's designs rapidly moved onto using a modified propane powered "weed burner" to heat the air and lightweight nylon fabric for the envelope material. (3)

(1) From The Independent (UK newspaper): Hot air balloons target cross-Channel record

(2) BBC News: Hot air balloons in English Channel world record bid

(3) Wikipedia entry for Hot Air Ballooning

(4) Wikipedia entry for Hot Air Balloons

(5) US Centennial of Flight Commission: Early Balloon Flight in Europe

Click to see all Panorama and Dover Coastguard-related photos.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on April 8, 2011

A close-up taken from Dover Coastguard Station on the same day:

G-PSAX Hot Air Balloon in English Channel Guinness World Record Bid

John Latter on April 9, 2011

Another close-up from Dover Coastguard Station::

D-OLUG Hot Air Balloon in English Channel Guinness World Records Bid

John Latter on April 10, 2011

A non-"wide angle" (and I think, better) version of the G-BXJH photo linked to in the previous comment has been uploaded to:

HM Dover Coastguard Station and G-BXJH Hot Air Balloon, Swingate

Natalia Stoyakina on May 12, 2011

WoW!! Wonderful view!!!

¤-¤-¤ L I K E №2 ¤-¤-¤

¤-¤-¤ V O T E D ¤-¤-¤


Best regards from RUSSIA! ¤-¤-¤ N A T A L I A ¤-¤-¤

John Latter on May 12, 2011

۞-۞ S T O N A ۞-۞, on May 12th, 2011, said:

WoW!! Wonderful view!!!

Thank you, Natalia - Greetings from Dover, England!

amadeus2050 on May 20, 2011

Buena foto. LIKE+VOTO. Saludos desde España. amadeus2050.

John Latter on May 20, 2011

amadeus2050, on May 20th, 2011, said:

Buena foto. LIKE+VOTO. Saludos desde España. amadeus2050.

Gracias, Amadeus - Saludos desde Dover, Inglaterra!

The Man in the Maze™ on May 22, 2011

beautiful picture LIKE

John Latter on May 22, 2011

vicleaf, on May 22nd, 2011, said:

beautiful picture LIKE

Thank you, Vicleaf - Greetings from Dover, England!

Mario Steiner on May 24, 2011

beautiful shot voted, like & YS. Greetings from Germany, Mario

John Latter on May 24, 2011

mst690, on May 24th, 2011, said:

beautiful shot voted, like & YS. Greetings from Germany, Mario

Thank you, Mario - Greetings from Dover, England!


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 7, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/04/07 07:35:20
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/400)
    • Focal Length: 55.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/13.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash