In homage to Jules Verne’s 1873 novel ‘80 days around the World’, our friends at Virgin.com are counting down the greatest fictional adventurers ever written. Since we’re in the business of ballooning, I thought it was high time we took a closer look at Verne’s infamous explorer, Phileas Fogg. Most people will tell you (even if they haven’t read the book) that Mr Fogg travelled the world by hot air balloon – an image so strongly associated with the novel that Fogg now stands as one of literature’s greatest balloonists. Funny that, since the idea of travelling the world by balloon is only briefly mentioned (and soon dismissed) in the novel.
“[Travelling by balloon] would have been highly risky and, in any case, impossible.” Chapter 32.
The 1956 film adaption of Verne’s novel popularised the false ballooning image.
Verne himself wasn’t a practising balloonist, but he did rely on this form of aviation much more strongly his short novels ‘Five Weeks in a Balloon’ and ‘A Voyage in a Balloon’. Thanks to the film adaption of ’80 Days’, you’d be hard pushed to find a modern version of the novel without a hot air balloon on the front cover. Which begs the question - why are we so fond of the ballooning trope?Fileas-Fogg
Verne said: “I wanted to give a romantic description of Africa [in ‘Five Weeks in a Balloon’]. Now, there was no means of taking my travellers through Africa otherwise than in a balloon, and that is why a balloon is introduced.”
Romance is the core ideology of ballooning. There’s something so timeless about soaring up to the clouds and going wherever the wind takes you. In fact (queue shameless plug) it’s obvious why we’re a popular choice for Valentine’s gifts. Hot air ballooning is such an admired tradition and a revered form of aviation. Why not experience it yourself? To book your flight today call 01952 212750 or visit www.virginballoonflights.co.uk