Russell first started flying hot air balloons in 2003 when he realised a long held ambition to become a balloon pilot. Since then ballooning has taken him to many places and countries including New Zealand, Thailand, UAE, India, Italy, France, Austria, the Swiss Alps and much of our green and beautiful land here in the UK.
A very memorable and proud moment in ballooning came from flying his family across the Channel in the 2011 World Record Breaking flight and Russell says seeing 50 balloons stretched out over the water from Dover to Calais was truly wonderful. Flying across the snow covered caps of the Swiss Alps has also been a stunning highlight for Russell who admits he absolutely loves ballooning:
“Each flight is different so balloon flying always remains interesting. I love pretty much every aspect of piloting balloons – the inflation, the roar of the burners, the outstanding views and indeed the very elemental nature of the flight itself. Balloon flying privileges you to see the beautiful countryside up-close and at a pace where you have time to enjoy it and take in the detail from above,” he says.
“The job satisfaction gained from witnessing someone’s balloon experience and seeing them beaming after their flight is hard to beat. I also really like the way a balloon flight leads you to arrive at some fantastic places, to meet all manner of interesting people and has a way of transcending boundaries, both social and geographical.”
Beyond his love of hot air ballooning, Russell’s other hobbies include flying kites, listening to music, watching movies and spending time with his family.
But his sense of adventure is never far away, even during our non-flying season, and in early 2015 he sailed a boat across the Atlantic from Cape Verde to Barbados!
“It was great fun and something to do in between the UK’s flying season,” he says. “But not even that beats flying the big red Virgin balloon and taking happy passengers up into the sky for an unforgettable balloon adventure.”
Russell flies in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and south Staffordshire. Book your hot air balloon ride over this region here.