After a long day of preparations and (delays caused by the wet weather) Spellward and his co-pilot Clive Bailey were the 3rd balloon to be launched at just after 5 am.
They lifted off with the balloon lit up by a spotlight and to the sound of the national anthem whilst they threw out some confetti on to the hundreds of cheering onlookers as they flew off into the darkness.
Clive said, “It was a wet evening before we took off, but not as cold as it was last year- it’s just great to be in the air at last!”
By 7.30 am the Great British team had travelled over 35 kilometres heading north. This morning they averaged speed of 4 knots and flew at a height of 8000 ft.
Spellward and Bailey are being followed by their retrieve crew, Paul’s wife, Elaine Spellward and Peter Mossman, who are in hot pursuit. Last year, in co-ordination with the control centre, the retrieve crew arrived within five minutes of the team landing!
Colin Butter, another Gas balloonist is their Flight Controller, and is based at his home in Surrey. David Hempleman-Adams is away but on is in regular contact with Clive and the team offering advice and support. Colin will be speaking every few hours to Clive & Paul giving updates on the weather and balloon track.
Paul enjoying breakfast of sausage & beans!!
Colin said: “It couldn’t have been a better launch after waiting around all night. Clive & Paul are in good spirits. We’ve had a positive start to the Gordon Bennett 2013. It’s all to play for now the balloons will start going on different tracks and it will get very interesting, especially with the weather forecast!”