« Ballon 2004 - Bazenheid | Main | Gas balloon flight along route 66 »

27 October 2004

Ballon 2004 - D-OOWS

In the weekend between Gordon Bennett and the World Championship in Bitterfeld we visited the annual balloon meeting in St-Niklaas, where each year some gas balloons are admitted too. Both on Saturday and Sunday 1 gasballoon was to take off. As there are always enough photographers for the hot air balloons we decided to follow the gas balloon instead. This one is a tale of following the balloon and attending the landing, the aim of every good spotter :-))


Also on Sunday 1 gas balloon took off, and this time 'entire' gas balloon loving Belgium was present! Not so much because of balloon D-OOWS, a very common Warsteiner balloon, but because the crew was completely Belgian: Luc Van Geyte ànd Philippe De Cock, accompanied by a young female passenger who thought she was going to fly an hour or so.

The preparations advanced very well and when the Belgian flag was attached to the balloon we knew takeoff was near… under the guidance of Jean Sax the balloon was ‘weighed’ and with the words ‘alles los’ ('go!') the balloon ascended on the tones of our national hymn at 16:15. There was more wind than the day before and from a different direction too. Still above the launch field half a bag of sand was thrown out to get higher.

To prove to ourselves that loosing the Bazenheid had merely been a moment of weakness, we decided to follow this balloon too… and we were certainly not the only ones… At the start we heard people talk about the possibility of a flight to England, but you don’t make such a flight without serious preparations and with only a little bit of ballast… good for us, because the Channel is a "little bit" larger than the Scheldt and we would have lost this balloon too.

All the time we had been ahead of the balloon, when the canal Ghent-Terneuzen and its surrounding industrial area gave us some tense moments. We crossed the canal and waited patiently. All the asphfalted terrains and the canal had made the balloon fly around Ghent and take the direction of Deinze. From now on we regularly met the crew and another persistent spotter, but we decided to stay on our own… no radio on board… no other means of communication… just drive and see how things would turn.

After some time we got into trouble. The balloon had gained a lot more speed and we had no visual contact anymore. Nervously we decided to drive to Deinze but all we found there was a hot-air balloon… We didn’t give up, and suddenly we saw a tennisball in the sky, partly hidden in a parch of fog. Full speed we crossed several villages, drove over small roads and field-tracks … the balloon grew every minute larger… and finally we were under it!

"Hang on! Don’t let go anymore!"…

The balloon was flying rather low now, and it became clear to us that they were preparing for the landing… one last picture… but then we noticed that they still had a lot of speed. The chase crew drove past us at high speed and while we were wondering if it wouldn’t be a good idea to stay close to them from now on, they kept driving straight on… No we weren’t going to follow, we would turn back and wait for the balloon. It could happen any moment now… one more residential quarter, a meadow, the railroad. After 3h30’ of flight the trail rope unrolled and the balloon stopped as if there suddenly was no wind anymore. We were so proud when we ran to the balloon … this time, we did it!!!

10 minutes later the crew arrived too… olé… olé, olé, olé!…

We all packed the balloon and afterwards drank a toast to another splendid flight… And very satisfied we thought: “Bitterfeld, here we come!!!”

Donald & Luc Buyle

Posted by Marianne at 10:15 PM

Email story to a friend

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):


March 2009
January 2009
September 2008
July 2008
March 2008
January 2008
December 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
June 2006
April 2006
March 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003

Last messages

Lighter than air
Gas balloon contest on WAG is cancelled
Men with a mission
Helma Sjuts deceased
Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 2008 - the teams
GB 2009 in Geneva
World Record Balloon Flight
GB 2008 in Albuquerque
America's Challenge - update #2
America's Challenge - update #1


Gasballoon Map


Official Gordon Bennett Pages


Belgian Balloon Pages