ViewRanger takes to the skies in cross-channel flight

Posted on 04/05/2017

We caught up with John Hartley, who took part in the cross-channel flight of over 80 hot air balloons to break a Guinness World Record.

Hot air balloon cross-channel flight

1. Tell us about your recent hot air balloon trip, as featured on the BBC!

Our balloon, flown by Peter Haworth, is the one with blue and pink vertical stripes, G-CHAU. It's a Cameron Concept 80 model and two of us flew in the basket with extra fuel cylinders of propane to increase our range. 

Hot air balloon cross-channel flight

We flew for around two and a half hours and returned with our retrieve crew, who had caught the ferry across to meet us, in the afternoon of the same day. The Gendarmes came over to see us in the field where we landed and checked our passports and details!

This is from the official website which summarises the adventure....

“At 7am this morning, 82 hot air balloons launched from Lydden Hill Race Circuit and headed for the famous White Cliffs of Dover and the open water [to set] a new Guinness World Record.

Exclusive Ballooning’s Director Andrew Holly flew alongside James in the official Lord Mayor’s Appeal hot air balloon which was enjoying its maiden flight, having been unveiled for the first time on the launch site this morning.  Andrew said “Thank you to all the pilots and crews who travelled so far to make this truly an international and unforgettable flight. The 2011 flight was my favourite of all time and we were thrilled to be able to give so many pilots from all over Europe the opportunity to have the same experience. It has been a fantastic day and I think this morning’s flight is now top of my list!”

With pilots participating and travelling to Dover from 10 different countries, this operation was no small feat. Specific weather conditions are needed both on the ground and at altitude and these do not frequently appear.

Once all teams have returned to their home countries, the GPS flight tracks from each balloon alongside some stunning pictures will be submitted to Guinness for this to be officially ratified as a new world record and with BBC Breakfast broadcasting live from a balloon and the pictures going worldwide, there will be a wealth of evidence to choose from.”

Hot air balloon cross-channel flight

2. How did ViewRanger help your adventure?

As well as recording the track, ViewRanger was helpful in displaying our heading - just to make sure we were going to make it! The wind differs in speed and direction at different heights above the ground. Climbing or descending can take advantage of these, allowing the pilot to control heading, to a limited degree.

The GPX file from the track will be used as evidence in confirming the world record with the Guinness Book officials.

 Hot air balloon cross-channel flight: ViewRanger track

3. How did you get into hot air ballooning? Any tips for beginners?

I got into ballooning through a personal contact but there are local clubs across the country, keen to welcome new enthusiasts. A Google search will pull up details of yours.

Hot air balloon cross-channel flight

4. Have you got any more adventures coming up?

As well as flying locally, in the north west of England, and at several balloon meets, we are going to Chambley, France, in July for the Mondial Air Ballons spectacular. Around 400 balloons from around the world gather for a week of flying from an old US airbase.

Hot air balloon cross-channel flight

5. Finally, the most important question – did you break that cross-channel record?

The answer’s in the report… “The previous record, coincidentally set on the same date of April 7th in 2011, saw 49 balloons complete the flight, however today’s flight easily surpassed this number.”

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