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An Evening with Hot Air Balloons

The burners erupted upwards as I stood my distance, watching the balloons inflate. The barbecue smouldered in the corner of the field as people talked and soaked up the atmosphere.

The water tower that could normally be seen from miles around suddenly became dwarfed alongside the enlarged canopies.

The Balloons lifted slowly but deliberately from the ground and soared gracefully over the treetops, drifted towards Bedford in the gentle South-westerly breeze.

I had arrived too late to rig my own trike, so I hitched a ride with my mate Graham in his Flash II Alpha flexwing Microlight.

Powering up on the runway, I was in hot pursuit of a postcard perfect picture. We were airbourne in seconds from the 500 metre Tower Farm grass strip.

Picking our target and heading upwards to 4000ft, I leant sidewards, snapping photos in all directions. I hoped that at least some of them would capture the moment perfectly.

As we drew alongside the highest balloon, it started to sink like a brick, descending more rapidly than we could spiral downwards in the trike.

We had time to quickly take the shot see above right, waving to the passengers as they disappeared below us. We drifted away to the left and saw another hovering several hundred feet below us, skimming over the treetops. The sky was buzzing with Microlights all around as everyone sought the opportunity to fly alongside the gigantic canopies. Paul R in G-IE flew beneath us and we captured the picture on the right.

The evening drew to a close all too soon as most balloons had succumbed to gravity and ran low on fuel, landing safely in the surrounding fields.

We followed the last of them, skirting around a wispy cloud before descending and landing into the sunset, feeling completely energised.

On the right is a pensive picture that I think captures the mood of the evening perfectly.

Click a Picture to see a full-sized version.

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