G-PSAX Hot Air Balloon in English Channel Guinness World Records Bid, Dover, Kent, UK

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John Latter on April 8, 2011

A Hot Air Balloon with registration letters G-PSAX floating over Dover Coastguard Station, east of Dover Castle near the edge of the White Cliffs of Dover, at 7.34 am on Thursday, April the 7th, 2011.

Fifty-one balloon aircraft had set off from Lydden Hill race circuit in Kent between 6 and 7 am for the estimated four-hour flight to France, with one breaking-down just before reaching the coast. Balloonists came from all over Europe to take part, including Germany and Italy.

Most of the air armada can be seen heading out to sea in the panoramic Hot Air Balloons crossing the English Channel in Guinness World Record Bid photo.

The event marks the first Guinness World Records bid for the largest group of hot air balloons to make the English Channel crossing.

Sponsorship from the attempt 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.

A BBC News team accompanied one of the balloons (don't know which one, except it was crewed by the people mentioned below) to the landing site of Calais in France. The caption to the video (1) reads:

50 hot air balloons have floated into the record books by flying across the English channel to France.

They set off from a race circuit near Dover and successfully landed near Calais within four hours.

Competitors, who had been waiting for the right weather conditions since the beginning of March, came from across Europe, including Italy and Germany.

Guinness World Records is due to verify the attempt within the next few days.

John Maguire travelled with the balloonists and spoke to Francoise Charbonnier and Dave Groombridge during his journey.

The main sponsors of the event were Palletways and it was organized by Airborne Balloon Flights.

The G-PSAX (Lindstrand LBL -77B) balloon aircraft was made by Lindstrand Balloons who have been manufacturing hot air balloons since 1975.

Background information

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) BBC News report: Up, up and away! 50 hot air balloons cross channel

(2) Wikipedia entry for Hot Air Ballooning

(3) Wikipedia entry for Hot Air Balloons

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

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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

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 8, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/04/07 07:34:39
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/320)
    • Focal Length: 55.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/9.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: -0.70 EV
    • No flash