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World’s first glass-bottomed hot air balloon.

These stomach-churning images capture the moment the world’s first glass-bottomed hot air balloon took its maiden flight today ahead of the 2010 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. (Pics and video)

 

The traditional wicker four-man basket has a completely transparent floor – providing passengers with heart-stopping views of the scenery below.

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Yesterday the balloon took to the skies for the first time over historic Bath, Somerset, to mark the start of the 2010 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

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The basket was the brainchild of pilot Christian Brown – who has 18 years experience flying balloons – and admitted the flight was a ”terrifying experience”.

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He said: ”We’ve done tethered trials before, which usually end with passengers shrieking and screaming in fear, but this is the first time we’ve actually taken to the skies unaided.

”It was a terrifying experience.

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”Ordinarily, you would look over the edge of the basket to peer at the ground below but there is something very disconcerting about seeing it right beneath your feet.

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”It certainly isn’t for the feint-hearted, but this is a totally unique experience and we have added a new dimension to ballooning.”

The balloon was designed by Shropshire-based Lindstrand Balloons and is made made using 12 miles of thread and covered with enough material to cover three double decker buses.

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A traditional wicker basket carries up to two passengers and two pilots who stand on just two-inch thick glass.

Christian, 44, travelled the world in a balloon with tycoon Richard Branson and currently holds the tethered altitude world record after flying at 10,000ft on a mountain in Chile.

He added: ”We designed it for Alpine flying as it would give incredible views of the scenery below.

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”We also hope to use it to break the altitude world record and fly at over 10,000ft, which will be incredible.

”We’re in the very early stages at the minute and are getting feedback from passengers but hope to roll them out to the public next year.”

Jo Chambers, 31, from Bath, who was the first to go up in the balloon yesterday, said: ”It was absolutely incredible and offered beautiful view below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hjPh-tbouA&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

”It was unnerving and the basket creaked slightly which was slightly disconcerting.

”It is an incredible site to see the ground slowly disappearing directly beneath your feet as you ascend.”

Via swns

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