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Laughing at gravity

There’s a new sight in the skies over the Kent countryside – the Kent Messenger Group balloon!
Kentish Gazette reporter George Ward explains all – and answers a few questions about the company’s latest project.

The 300,000 cubic-foot flyer was made in Spain by specialist company Ultramagic. Able to take 16 people plus the pilot, it is the biggest balloon in Kent.

The balloon is owned by Kent Ballooning, and in a marketing partnership with Kent Messenger it will sport eight-metre high Kent Messenger Group and Kent Messenger Radio logos.

Four burners will send it soaring into the skies for flights lasting between an hour and an hour and a half.

What’s it like flying in a balloon? First: it’s quiet. You fly with the wind, not against it, so there’s hardly a whisper in the rigging. What if you have a poor head for heights? Strangely, many people who suffer from vertigo find ballooning so surreal they lose their fear.

So what noise do they make? The roar of the gas burners will be familiar to many people. What earthbound spectators will not have experienced are the canine salutes balloons inspire. Perhaps it’s the burners, perhaps it’s the shape in the sky, but dogs do love to bark at balloons.

Do you need ear plugs? Certainly not. For most of the time ballooning is all but silent. One pilot remembers a flight during a hosepipe ban. Floating over the walls of a private estate he saw the owner hosing down his Rolls Royce.

Leaning over the side and cupping his hands he boomed “Thou shall not waste water!”

The man below dropped the hose and looked up as if hearing the voice of God.

Talking about those on the ground, what is the landing like? Regular pilot Mike Spice, of Kent Ballooning, will bring the basket down gently enough for you to enjoy the celebratory champagne at the end of each flight.

How big is this basket? It’s a traditional cane basket measuring 3.5m by 1.75m.

Group development manager Caroline Brinkman said: “his is a new and exciting venture in brand marketing the Kent Messenger Group 3,000ft up in the sky.”

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