Balloons blown out of proportion?

February 26, 2013

Today the internet is awash with comment of the balloon disaster in Egypt. Much blame is attributed to Egyptian lack of Health & Safety. This seems unfair. The balloon operators I observed in Egypt did not appear any less competent than the ones in England except in their command of the English language.

The balloon flight I took over Dorset swooped dangerously low over a busy main road, missed the power lines by a hair's breadth and landed with an almighty crash in a field full of bullocks and barbed wire. The pilot said the landing was normal. I broke my nose when the elephantine person behind me crushed my face into the frame of the basket on impact. Before this very expensive 'Champagne Flight' we were expected to assemble the balloon. At the end, we had to pack the balloon up. This took over two hours: two very uncomfortable hours in a bitterly cold field full of cow pat and thistles in pitch blackness. The support vehicle was mysteriously unable to locate us until the pilot confirmed that the balloon was all packed up and ready to go.

Taking to the skies in a crate heavily laden with people beneath a large inflammable bubble with a substantial cylinder of gas and a powerful naked flame must surely come with risk. The only real surprise is how few ballooning disasters there are. In making one's choices, one takes one's chances. 

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