A day in Chambley
4 o’clock in the morning.
The alarm clock rings. The eyes still sting, but it’s time to get up, attach the trailer and get in the car. Direction the aerodrome of Chambley! Here I am in Ballonville Pilote at Hangar G. The members of the organization serve us coffee/tea/chocolate and croissants. A good moment to meet up with pilot friends from all over the world and discuss with the balloon manufacturers and dealers present with stands in the village. The atmosphere is warm. Quickly the big hall fills up. Time for the briefing.
6 o’clock, time of the briefing
The briefing starts, the flight director and the “weather” announce the flight conditions and keep the suspense. Immediately, I can consult the weather info on the app on my smartphone , but also on the briefing screens and in paper version. I’m just waiting for one thing: takeoff clearance. Verdict: It’s flying! Back to the car in the crew parking near the briefing. At the beginning it’s a little bit complicated to find oneself in the zones (blue, yellow, green, red) and to be integrated in the parade of the pilots which passes along the public. That’s it, I find my place. It’s time to unload the basket and unfold the envelope. The fastest ones are already making the burners roar and the ventilators are running at full speed. The flag is green above Hangar G and the Control Tower. Less than 30 minutes later, tens of balloons are already in the air. Quickly followed by hundreds more. The spectacle is breathtaking to be in the heart of the enchantment. All around the fields, small villages, plains, forests, herds of cows and sheep. The magic is happening. It is a privileged moment in the silence and the plenitude punctuated by the noise of the burner.
After a 1 hour flight, I land easily in a park. The time to pack everything up, with the crew I take the direction of the aerodrome of Chambley to refuel. Magic the gas station disposes of 150 refill points. The chore is over. In ten minutes, I am back on the crew parking lot to celebrate the flight at the pilots’ bar. Maybe today, we’ll stay for lunch with our friends. This afternoon we’ll go to Metz or Nancy and why not go swimming at the Madine lake. And to laze in the sun to rest.
6 o’clock in the afternoon
The hour of the briefing rang, back to the aerodrome. We have to hurry because it is the hour when the public begins to flock. Small detour through the Pilâtre de Rozier boutique to buy an additional jacket and hop silence, the flight director is going to speak. Tomorrow Sunday, he announces the Great Line inflation. A great moment with an advanced briefing to allow everyone to line up quickly and take off in less than an hour. A new record attempt. All the media, the public and the pilots are waiting for this magical moment. It’s a first for me, I came a little bit also to live this record.
The public is massed along the barriers. Again it is the parade of the pilots with our flags. The flashes crackle and the applause is nourished. Back to the green zone assigned to me. I choose a nice place without too many balloons to prepare myself. Once again I am in the air in the middle of hundreds of bubbles, it’s magic.
9 o’clock in the evening
Landing before the night, back to the gas station, a small beer with friends in BallonVille Pilote and hop in bed. Tomorrow we start again. I’m lucky I’m hosted at ten minutes of the aerodrome with a couple of farmers. Paradise! And that will last another eight days. I did well to come because the atmosphere is awesome.
This is usually how new pilots tell us about their first experience. We have already received accommodation proposals for pilots. Do not hesitate to contact me. First come, first served. Pay attention, regular pilots have already booked their accommodation for a long time, and as days go by, it’s more complicated to find accommodation less than 20 minutes from the aerodrome.