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Virgin Balloon Flights

Oxford School Visit Hot Air Ballooning Excitement

What can be more exciting than a Virgin Balloon Flights pilot demonstrating the hot air balloon’s burner in your schoolyard?

Having the chance to hop in the big basket and pretend to be passengers might just beat it.

Mark Shemilt invited the children to do that in his recent Oxford school visit at Chandlings.

After he visited the school in 2018 for the first time, Shem received a personal direct invitation to repeat the event. He gladly accepted.

Whenever their schedule allows, our pilots enjoy teaching the younger generations about their biggest passion. Shem explains:

“There is a natural affinity between children and hot air balloons. The sense of adventure attracts them to it. To see their faces light up as they learn about the science of hot air ballooning is just wonderful.”

Visiting a school in the area he flies over also added to the excitement for both children and pilot.

“Most of them know my Virgin balloon, they have seen me fly over Oxford. Our launch site is really just up the road from their school.”

Highlights Of Shem’s 2019 School Visit

Just as usual on such an occasion, Shem showed the children how the burner works.

“I used it two or three times, so that they could see and hear how it looks and sounds, from a safe distance. They all reacted in amazement and awe watching the demonstration.”

One of the most special moments of this Oxford school visit for our pilot was helping a girl in a wheelchair up into the basket.

Her broken leg didn’t prevent her from having the full experience.

Once in the basket, she did not want to get out again, according to Mark.

A school representative said:

“Mark was accommodating and generous with his time. He particularly took special notice of our little one in a wheelchair with a broken leg.”

Our Virgin Balloon Flights pilot was impressed with the children’s prior knowledge about hot air ballooning.

Also, he says they remembered all the information he gave them during the demonstration.

“In the Q&A session at the end, they knew all the answers about inflating and flying the hot air balloon which I gave them during the presentation. They paid attention to everything I told them.”

The children’s parents seemed to be just as impressed themselves after the visit.

Lindsay Dickinson, Head of Year 1 and Year 2, involved in organising the event, sent us feedback the day after:

“It was fantastic. The children were so excited. This morning, the parents came in raving about the Virgin Balloon Flights caps he gave the children. They all said how the children were buzzing about it last night. We loved the burners and the questions only Mark could answer.”

She has already asked if Mark can go back again next year.

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