Up… Up…Up and Away!
I think we’re gonna need a bigger basket!
It has taken me a few days to write this… because I am still on Cloud 9!
Last Friday (28th May), isleofwight.com were given the opportunity to not only take photographs of this wonderful event happening at Robin Hill, but to also take a flight. Yes – a flight! It took me slightly by surprise. Good job I had my woolly hat in my bag.
The alarm went off at 4.30am – it wasn’t too difficult to get out of bed, as I knew what I was about to see. As I walked down into the Lower Valley of Robin Hill, I could hear complete silence. It was almost the sound of excitement before a major event that was about to happen for our Island. As I walked over to the Sky High Night Glow team, I had a good feeling that this was going to be a fun filled weekend for not only visitors, but also locals too. The weather was set to be ‘perfect’ for flying and conditions were looking good for the bank holiday weekend.
As I had my camera ready, I was then approached with a tough decision. “Would you like to take a ride in a balloon?” At first I was anxious, as I had never stepped foot in a basket, let alone take a flight in one before. It only took a few seconds for the words to come out of my mouth and say “YES PLEASE!”
I partnered up with 3 others in the grenade balloon and we were all given a strict safety briefing. Then – the fun began.
I got to go inside my balloon before we took off
As my nerves started to kick in, it was quickly overtaken by the thought of the wonderful photos I would be able to capture, seeing the Island from a different view and I knew I was in safe and capable hands, as the friendly pilot Adam assured me there was very little to worry about. As soon as the balloon was ready, all 4 of us jumped into the basket and held on! There were two balloons in total – the one next door to us was a more traditional, colourful balloon. However, I felt our grenade was a status symbol!
Adam and the team fired up, we braced ourselves and up we went… weightless, moving with the wind and flying over the tree tops.
There are no words to describe how I felt. The adrenaline that was pumping through me at that point was nothing I had ever felt before. As we left Robin Hill’s Lower Valley, I witnessed the famous toboggan run get smaller and smaller in to the distance.
The toboggan run
The view had me lost for words
As we made an exit out of the park, we entered an endless sight of farmland and beautiful scenery. It was without doubt one of the most spectacular sights I had ever seen. Newport was about to get 2 hot air balloons fly high above over them on the way to work and school.
The view was breath-taking as we headed for Newport
As we flew over the farmlands and headed towards town, I asked Adam how a hot air balloon works. He reassured me that it was a safe way to travel, but the wind is in charge of the destination and also the final setting of the balloon (with a bit of help from the pilot of course). The sound of the fire blowing into the balloon is quite loud, but not alarming after you get used it. The heat was quite nice too!
We started to approach Newport and picked up speed, as the wind began to rise. I still felt completely safe and I did not want my journey to end. I also began to recognise certain buildings…
Marks and Spencers
As we flew over Marks and Spencers, Morrisons and Matalan, we also flew over residential houses, allotments and gardens. School children were waving and shouting ‘hi’ as we passed over them. What a sight for them to see before heading off to school! I knew our flight had to come to an end soon – comfortingly knowing that we were also being followed on the road by others on the Sky High team. The other balloon was also taking a similar flight path to us and began to descend in a field. As Adam began our decent, he knew he had spotted a good place to land. We were heading for Carisbrooke High School’s playing field. We were told to bend our knees and brace for impact – not quite how I imagined it, but that is what we all did. We came down with a thud and the basket tilted 90 degrees over. We were all in shock, but more importantly we were all laughing. What a fantastic experience!
Both feet back on the ground
As soon as we were out of the basket, I thanked Adam – probably too many times. The pilot knew our exact location and informed the rest of the team to come and pick us all up. Watching the team look after the balloon is not a quick and easy task. The grenade was carefully laid out on the grass, deflated and folded into a big bag. The basket was then lifted on to a trailer, to make its way back to Robin Hill, where they were to prepare for a full weekend of flights. Adam informed me it was his job to set up and deliver the music with cleverly choreographed balloon lighting that would be taking place in the night shows.
Social media was certainly buzzing from the mornings sightings and plenty of people waved as we flew by.
A Sky High record was broken with the amount of balloons that took flight on the Night Glow event. The magnificent hot air balloons float back to Robin Hill for a three-day extravaganza this summer! Sky High Night Glow, in association with T&K Masks will run daily from 5-10pm between 20th – 22nd August. To find out more, click here.
After previously cancelling the event planned for May due to Government restrictions, the Robin Hill team are delighted to be able to stage this balloon exhibition with a few changes at the end of August.
“Given the balloons’ dependency on calm air and stable winds, we’re over the moon to see so many up in the skies this year. The joy it’s brought to so many people over the past few days is a delight to see, and we’re all looking forward to welcoming balloons back to the Isle of Wight in August. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all the land owners who have accommodated our crews this weekend and, of course, thank our pilots and wonderful guests for making the last few days so special.” – James Crofts, Park Manager
Tickets are available online now at Robin Hill Website – Tickets
We would like to thank Robin Hill for the opportunity to take part in this wonderful Island event and to also thank the Sky High Night Glow team for having us. I will be forever grateful to my grenade and we look forward to seeing you back on the Island soon.
For more events, click on our Events Guide.