GAS BALLOON FLIGHT TO BELGIUM
The odds were not really in our favour for a Gordon Bennett training flight last week – but we did it nevertheless. As the new gas balloon of the Ballonsportgruppe Stuttgart e.V. is not yet registered, the Freiballonverein Augsburg was friendly enough to charter us their D-OFVA – a huge thankyou for that guys! :-)
The weather situation was also not an easy one, but with the help of our met men Tomas Hora and Moritz Friess, we worked out a strategy and took off with sunrise at the historic launchsite “Via Claudia” at Gersthofen. Some things you just gotta try! ;-)
Sailing into the night, we slowly approached Stuttgart – many thanks to DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung for coordinating that so nicely! With their help and understanding, we could fly as ballast saving as possible.
What followed next was a little adventure in the snow! We knew that there was some precipitation south of Stuttgart which would move eastwards later on, while we saw that it would be possible to move westwards with the clouds beneath us. However, we did see some snowflakes around us before the balloon gently descended to the lower levels and moved to the west, and they looked even more terrifying in our landing searchlight!
After we had escaped the snow, the winds rewarded us with a close fly-by at my hometown of Pforzheim… and with a magnificent sunset more westwards later on!
The second day of our flight was far more enjoyable: The sun was warming us all day, while we were looking for winds to carry us east again. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any easterly directions – and some weather models showed a dramatic increase of speed at night! As we didn’t want to find ourselves over the North Sea at sunrise, we decided to take the safe option and to land in the south-east of Belgium in the evening.
Thanks to our busy weatherman Moritz, we had a restaurant recommendation right after landing, and some phone calls later, the owner of the Willow Springs Way Station picked us up at the next village. A hot shower, two hamburgers and several beers followed! =)
Thanks again everyone involved for making this possible! :-) Freiballonverein Augsburg / Ballonsportgruppe Stuttgart e.V. / DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung / Tomas Hora / Thomas Morris Moritz Friess / Peter Rollmann