Prestigious award for young hot air balloon pilot
A young hot air balloonist from Kent has won a prestigious award at the European Balloon Festival.
Haydn Board, 20, is no stranger to accolades, being the youngest Britain to gain a hot air balloon pilot’s licence at the age of 16, after flying for only two years.
Board comes from a family of high flyers – his great-uncle is his flight assistant, his brother is also training to be a hot air balloon pilot, his father flies an identical hot air balloon and his mother acts as the family’s recovery driver on the ground.
The European Balloon Festival has been held in Igualada, near Barcelona, for five days at the beginning of July since 1997 and, depending on the weather, launches two flights each day with two awards up for grabs each time. Flights are timed for early morning and later in the afternoon, when the weather is most suitable for hot air balloon flights.
The Hare and Hounds award, which Board won, comprises two flights, the first of which involves dropping a marker at a place located by given GPS co-ordinates, while the second requires one hot air balloon pilot to make a quick getaway to lay a target for the following pilots to locate and mark.
The European Balloon Festival is organised by the Igualada City Council and has become a big tourist attraction, featuring fireworks displays and a spectacular night glow where inflated hot air balloons are tethered to provide a stunning finale to the event.