An Oxfordshire school had the ultimate school visit this November, when an ace hot air balloon pilot stopped by. Virgin Balloon Flights pilot Mark Shemilt stopped by Chandlings Prep School near Oxford to speak to pupils about hot air ballooning. And while a full balloon wasn’t possible to take, he took the large passenger basket and fired up the four large burners that make it fly. His visit was a big hit with pupils in Year 2, whose topic this term is ‘Up Up And Away’.

School Visit

One girl from Year 2 said: “My favourite bit was when Mark put on the burner.” And another, a boy also in Year 2, added: “My favourite bit was climbing into the basket, which was really big.” Lindsay Dickinson, the school’s Head of Year 1 and 2, said the children absolutely loved Mark’s visit. “This term our Year 2 topic is Up, Up And Away. We’ve been studying all things that travel in the air,” she said. “We were so excited to have Virgin Balloon Flights come and demonstrate how hot air balloons work. “The children loved seeing the burner and climbing into the basket, which was a lot bigger than they thought it would be!”

Hot Air Balloon Pilot

Pilot Mark has been a hot air balloon pilot for more than 30 years, flying large passenger balloons for the past 27 of them. He also holds one world ballooning record and three British records. “The children at Chandlings were absolutely wonderful and it was fantastic to have such an enthusiastic audience,” he said. “I invited them all to climb in the basket and also fired up the burners a few times, which they really enjoyed. “I really enjoyed the visit and it’s great to hear it was a valuable afternoon for the children’s learning too.” “At Chandlings Prep School we believe that learning happens everywhere and the morning spent with Mark from Virgin Balloon Flights showed how this really is the case,” added Lindsay. “The children learnt so much, not only about how hot air balloons work but also the history of them.” Whether we’re able to arrange a school visit here at Virgin Balloon Flights depends on our pilots’ availability. To find out more, send us an email on marketing@virginballoonflights.co.uk.