VIDEO: Flying high above the skies of Knaresborough

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Dozens of hot air balloon flights took place over the town of Knaresborough this weekend and as the Knaresborough Post reporter, I had the opportunity to fly in one of the baskets.

After a bumpy start, when I wished I had never agreed to take part, pilot Graham Hill led the balloon to take off, floating high over the Nidd viaduct and the crowds gathered at Knaresborough Castle Top.

Knaresborough Castle from hot air balloon May 31 2014 pic by Laura Hill

Knaresborough Castle from hot air balloon May 31 2014 pic by Laura Hill

The 77,000 sq ft balloon carried us gently across the skies of Knaresborough, passed Goldsborough and Flaxby before we bumped to a halt in a field between the A59 and Allerton Castle just before sunset.

The hot air balloon spectacular was organised by Coun Anne Jones (Lib Dem, Scriven Park) as part of the 100 day cultural festival for the Tour de France.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity and former cyclist Brian Robinson, aged 81, took to the skies on Friday evening.

Coun Jones conquered her fear of heights on Saturday evening, when she flew with pilot Claire Westwood.

Coun Jones said: “I was so nervous about taking flight but once we floated up from the field it was amazing. It was wonderful to see everyone waving to us and this happened time and time again throughout the flight.

“The views were stunning, you can see for miles and miles, I will never forget it! I am delighted that people enjoyed it, as I wanted to bring a big event to the town, something that people would remember and also came free of charge so that everyone could enjoy it and judging from the social media response they most certainly did!”

The Pennine region balloon association and The North West balloon club performed a total of 25 flights by 12 pilots over the weekend. The colourful balloons were seen in Goldsborough, Scriven, Whixley, Ferrensby, Nun Monkton, the Vale of York and Knaresborough.

Knaresborough resident Emily Rose Tweeted: “I loved watching all these balloons this weekend flying high over Knaresborough, I thought one was going to land in our garden this morning!

“It was definitely a big hit, I had one very happy little boy this morning who loved watching them.”

Lynsday Snodgrass said: “There was a lovely atmosphere up at Castle Top, with old and young alike eagerly waiting for the spectacle to unfold, a big cheer went up along with the first balloon!

“The whole of Knaresborough seems to have gone Tour de France mad. The town is looking fantastic with the yellow bikes, decorated t-shirt bunting and flags.”

Pilot, Mr Hill explained that the balloon, named Reverend Leonard, weighed 102 kilos and travelled at around eight miles per hour during our flight.

The 63-year-old was bought a voucher for a hot air balloon ride for his 40th birthday and has been involved in ballooning ever since.

He said: “It was a good spot to take off from and we got some good views over Knaresborough. People seemed to really enjoy seeing the balloons.”