At just seven years old, Nicole’s dream of a hot air balloon ride came true when she became our youngster passenger to take to the skies over Bishop Auckland this month. Taking off from our Bishop Auckland launch site at Witton Castle, she and her mum Ashleigh ventured on a County Durham hot air balloon ride - in what Ashleigh called ‘the most moving experience of her life’. [caption id="attachment_7537" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Hot air balloon rides for families Nicole and her mum at 2,000 feet.[/caption] Our hot air balloon rides for families offer an unforgettable experience for any generation, from young children to grandparents and can be enjoyed by anybody aged seven and older. Nicole’s first ever glimpse of a hot air balloon came when one flew over her house when she was just four years old. “I’d seen them in cartoons but didn’t know you could fly on one until my mummy pointed out the people in the balloon as it flew over,” she said.

A Dream Come True

Ashleigh said from that moment on, Nicole couldn’t wait to experience a Durham hot air balloon ride for herself, even getting hot air balloon-themed gifts for her next two birthdays until she was finally old enough to fly for real. [caption id="attachment_7540" align="alignleft" width="225"]Durham hot air balloon ride Nicole enjoys the views.[/caption] “It was definitely worth the wait,” said Ashleigh. “We had a few cancelled flights but this didn’t put her off, it just added to the suspense and made it even more special. “The experience was amazing, completely different to how I imagined it would be. It was so serene. “Seeing Nicole’s dream come true was probably the most moving experience of my life and was my highlight of the flight.” Ashleigh did admit that she was a bit worried the evening before the flight that Nicole might let nerves get the better of her on the day. “But once we arrived at the launch location and Nicole saw the basket, she wasn’t nervous at all. “Our pilot really engaged her in helping get the balloon ready for the flight, Chris his crew man Paul were fantastic. They interacted with Nicole and kept her engaged all morning, not just during the flight.”

On The Day

And Nicole admitted that she was very nervous the night before, although she was also very excited. [caption id="attachment_7541" align="alignright" width="225"]Deflating hot air balloon Deflating the balloon after landing was great fun![/caption] “On the day there was so much to do, I was too busy to be worried. “The balloon was massive! When I helped Chris and Paul pull it out of the bag it just kept coming and coming. They look so small in the sky. “I liked it when we were really high and looking at all the houses and the new lambs running around in the fields. “I loved landing too – Chris said it was a real landing because it was really bumpy! And despite already having high expectations, Nicole also found her hot air balloon flight “even better” that she had expected it to be. “I got to help get the balloon ready and helped squash all the air out at the end. “Our pilot Chris was really nice. I kept asking him where my house was and where my grandma and granddad lived. “He pointed out all the places I asked about – even where my school was. He told me all about how the balloon flies too. “I think Mummy’s best part was the Champagne!”

Hot Air Balloon Rides For Families Are The Best Present

And could any birthday present ever top her hot air balloon ride for Nicole? [caption id="attachment_7542" align="alignleft" width="225"]hot air balloon ride for children Ashleigh and Nicole enjoy a post landing Champagne / orange juice toast.[/caption] “No, my hot air balloon ride has been my best present EVER! "I might even become a hot air balloon pilot myself when I’m older, if I’m not a pop star!” Families are such a big part of what we do here at Virgin Balloon Flights and we were so pleased we could help make Nicole’s dream come true. Hot air balloon rides for families offer a truly unforgettable flying experience to enjoy with your children, parents, grandparents or even great grandparents. From seven years old to 100 years old, we’ve been helping make hot air balloon ride dreams come true for almost 22 years. Find out more on our website or by calling our team on 01952 212750. Our Bishop Auckland launch site offers beautiful views and is our closest hot air balloon ride to Durham.