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