FROM STUTTGART TO SWEDEN – WITH TWO GAS BALLOONS
Our latest adventure led us to Sweden – with two gas balloons! =) Months ago already, we had reserved the last weekend of October for a Gordon Bennett qualification flight – and as the weekend approached, the weather models showed that a flight to the north would be possible. We informed Austrian fellow pilot Wuzi who immediately agreed to take of together with us at the launch site of the Ballonsportgruppe Stuttgart.
Our next step was to check with DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung if our plan would be feasible ATC-wise – the wind trajectories showed a flight path close to Frankfurt approach, and we wanted to be prepared for every outcome. On October 29th, shortly after 11 o’clock local time, we took to the air and soon enjoyed the spectacular views over Stuttgart.
The afternoon sun warmed us on our way northward, while we aimed for the south-easterly corner of Frankfurt airspace. In the end, the winds made it even easier for us, as we had enough steerage to completely avoid Frankfurt approach. Thanks again DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung for the perfect collaboration!
Not being sure if we would have the time for an airy breakfast the next day, as our landing in Sweden was planned shortly after sunrise, we moved up our salmon snack and enjoyed it while a glorious sunset was forming on the horizon.
The night was rather uneventful – no major airspaces to coordinate with. So, I had plenty of time to experiment with my camera, and finally managed to capture nice shots of the cities we flew over. Wolfsburg, Wismar, Kopenhagen and Halmstad… can you guess which is which? ;-)
As dawn approached, we were already flying over Swedish landscape… lakes and forests all around, but no landable terrain – at least none we wanted to pack our white balloon on. As morning fog formed beneath us, things started to get tense… but with fast mobile internet available, GoogleMaps satellite view was our new best friend, and we made it into a nice grass field, after 22 hours, 30 minutes and 1271 kilometers. What an incredible adventure! =)
The way back was rather easy: We packed the balloon quickly and drove back to Göteborg, where the Austrian balloon team had already booked the ferry for us (they had landed a bit earlier and a bit more to the south). And a few beers later, we had a nice dinner aboard all together, while the ferry was on its way back to Kiel, Germany.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to the entire Ballonsportgruppe Stuttgart e.V., especially our met man and strategy guru Tomas, our ATC guys Thomas & Florian and our retrieve Helmut & Peter. Again, to DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung and their Danish and Swedish colleagues, who cleared our way and provided us with an excellent service and a very relaxed flight. And of course our Austrian friends Wuzi, Steffi, Petra & Finn for their great comradeship and the funny trip back to Germany! ;-)