Hot air balloons in English Channel world record bid

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Media captionWatch: The balloons taking off

A world record is set to be confirmed after 50 hot air balloons succeeded in their attempt to fly across the English Channel.

They set off from Lydden Hill race circuit in Kent at about 0700 BST for the flight and arrived in and around Calais within four hours.

Balloonist Ian Sharpe, from Caterham in Surrey, is behind the attempt and said he was "absolutely elated".

Guinness World Records is due to verify the attempt within the next few days.

Speaking from a field near Calais just after landing, Mr Sharpe said the flight had been 14 months in the making.

The 51-year-old retired police officer added: "We have opened several bottles of Champagne in celebration. It's a great feeling."


Competitors, who had been waiting for the right weather conditions since the beginning of March, came from across Europe, including Italy and Germany.

Paul Komuro, marketing consultant for event sponsors Palletways, said: "As we came into Calais there was lovely sunshine. It was quite an exhilarating experience and something I'll remember for a long time to come."

It is the first time a Guinness World Records bid has been made for the largest group of hot air balloons to make the crossing.

Fifty-one balloons started the attempt, organised by Airborne Balloon Flights, but one had to abandon the flight just before the Channel because of technical difficulties.

Sponsorship from the record bid will go to the RNLI, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Halow Project, which supports young people with learning disabilities.

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