Virgin Balloon pilot Martin Cowling has piloted balloons all over the world, but after his first season in Scotland, he says it’s the best place he has ever flown.
“It’s fantastic when you get the good weather,” he said. “There’s no better flying if the conditions are right. You can see from the east coast virtually through to the west coast at 3,000 feet.
Martin, who was exhibiting his balloon at RAF Leuchars Airshow earlier this month, said some of the highlights of the season include flying over the River Tay, down into Fife and seeing the lower Highlands from the sky.
He said: “Looking out to sea, you can see the oil rigs and there are some fantastic sunrises and sunsets. Every flight is different and generally they are all fantastic.
“When it’s really clear, you can see the Highlands and right out to sea.”
For the last couple of seasons, Martin has flown in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, but volunteered for a new challenge in Scotland.
“They may get more flights in some areas down south from time to time, but they don’t have half as much fun,” he said. “It’s been a memorable and challenging season. It’s been a nice summer, but there’s been a lot of fog in the mornings and it can get quite windy and we always have to be careful and put safety first.”
He usually flies his big red hot air balloon from Perth
, Falkland Golf Club or Glamis Castle, where HM Queen
Elizabeth The Queen Mother was born.
Martin said the biggest difference between flying in Scotland and the rest of the UK is the weather patterns.
He said: “Scotland has a very complex weather pattern. It’s a very narrow part of the UK and there is a lot of influence from the Atlantic on the west, but also the North Sea and you have to get to grips with that, but that’s the challenge of ballooning.”
Martin, who lives in St Meadows, said the people he has flown with this season in Scotland have been a “great bunch”.
“The people here are all very nice, honest and sincere and the landowners have also been great,” he said.
But Martin said he has yet to have anyone propose on a balloon flight in Scotland.
“I keep asking if anyone is going to propose but nobody has this season!”
There’s a challenge for lads or ladies in Scotland looking for the perfect way to propose.
Book your own balloon ride in Scotland