Balloon Record Attempt

A 50 strong fleet of hot air balloons have floated from Canterbury to Calais as part of a world record attempt.

They are now waiting to see if they have secured the record for the largest number of hot air balloons to cross the English Channel. It is this the first time a bid has been made for the record.

The fleet left Lydden Hill race circuit at 7am on Thursday and journeyed over the Dover Strait - one of the busiest waterways in the world - to land safety in and around Calais by 11am. Some balloonists completed the challenge in an hour.

Competitors had come from across Europe, including Italy and Germany, to take part in the attempt.

Among the balloons was a 61ft dragon-shaped balloon, which is the largest of its kind in the world, and the only one in the UK with a glass-bottomed basket.

Paul Komuro who was on board said: "From the glass-bottomed basket, I could see the ships in the Channel as well other balloon crews and the White Cliffs of Dover.

"It was amazing to have a 360 degree view throughout the whole journey. We are really proud to have done it. The weather was fantastic. It was just right for us.

"As we came into Calais there was lovely sunshine. It was quite an exhilarating experience and something I'll remember for a long time to come.''

The record attempt was the brainchild of retired police officer Ian Sharpe, who took up ballooning as a hobby eight years ago.

After landing he said: "I'm absolutely elated that we have done it. It's the culmination of 14 months of hard work which has paid off.

Balloon record attempt "We have opened several bottles of Champagne in celebration and we are pleased to have made it. It's a great feeling.''

Sponsorship from the bid will go to good causes, including the RNLI, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Halow Project, which supports young people with learning disabilities.

The record is now subject to verification within the next few days by Guinness World Records, according to the event sponsors Palletways.

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