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05 November 2003

The land, where the Cheddar grows…

The land, where the Cheddar grows….

by Stefan Handl

16.10.2003 – 17.10.2003
Gersthofen – Cheddar Res.

Coast UK

To use the high pressure over the north sea for a fast flight to England the anxious question hydrogen or not hydrogen came up. But Wolfgang Kunz, our Ballon-Meister, made the impossible possible. We all, including our president, worked together to bring D-OCOL in the air.

Already on Monday, we have warned Colin (Cameron Balloons) that we would need his help after landing. The flight plan was exactly planned and confirmed by the air traffic control. Shortly before starting we have got the information that VFR flight by night are not allowed in Ireland.

We started our flight at 8.06 pm local after clearance by Augsburg Tower. Fastly we flew over the radio tower of Welden and parallel to the motorway Munich-Stuttgart. North of the ED-R 130 at Laichingen, crossing the gliding field Grabenstetten, we entered the area of Stuttgart Tower. The ride on the inversion got faster and faster. With nearly 110 km/h we moved directly to Baden-Baden. After a sudden lee turbulence, two complete sacks of sand were necessary to get the balloon under control again. Over the Forêt du Haguneau, the flight got more calm and we held the direction of 290° constantly. Viewing the landscape, I had a recollection of the last flight to England in 1996. It has been the same route through the north of France. But not as fast as this time.

Coast UK

In the morning hours we had a wonderful breakfast with hot soup and some snacks, Sabrina made for us. Meanwhile, Sabrina followed the flight by our tracking system and the internet. 12 hours in the air, the sun has not risen yet, we flew over Etaples the channel in front of us. Nearly 1 3/4 hours later the English coast at Lydd came in sight. We flew directly toward the chalk cliffs of Beady Head. But it was not granted to us to enter English ground. So we flew in a distance of 500 metres alongside the beaches of South England. At Worthing we finally entered inland and passed one military air space after another. London, Shoreham, Goodwood, Southampton, Boscombe and Bristol ATC. A very special thanks to all of these guys. They have been great partners and they did everything to get us through. So we passed the coast of South England and reached the Bridgewater Bay near Bristol in the early afternoon.

Near Bristol we decided to land and informed Colin that we would try the Cheddar Reservoir. The fall of the QNH from 1028 to 1016 made the landing decision easier, although the way to Ireland was much tempting.

After passing Cheddar Gorge we decreased our height fastly and landed on a sheep pasture with nearly 50 km/h. Lucky we shacked hands and 10 Min. later Colin arrived with the Cameron Van on the field. Very special thanks to Don Cameron, who made that possible. One hour and a sightseeing tour through Cheddar Gorge later we enjoyed a good glass of vine, a piece of the famous cheese and the wonderful hospitality of Colin an Julia.

We want to thank everyone, who has helped us to experience such a great flight, especially the ATC´s in Germany, France and the UK, our Freiballonverein Augsburg and his devoted members. And of course our families. They always have to suffer when we are in the air.

Stefan Handl

Map England
Position Report

Posted by Luc at 7:16 PM

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