We took off at 5.30 a.m. and that meant a 3.30 wake-up call for me as the launch-site was over 60 miles form where I live.
As I drove at that early hour I was acutely aware of the issue I would have had doing such a thing in the days when I drank. If I had decided to drive myself I would have had to not drink the night (ideally the 24 hours) before. The fact that you don’t know if the flight is going to take place until 11.00 p.m. the evening before would have been a real pain. I would have been torn between not drinking that evening and all the stress of that, or risking driving over the limit the next day. Even worse would have been not drinking the night before only to find the launch cancelled. How wonderful for none of that pathetic nightmare to be an issue and for me to be able to drive clear-headed and excited to the launch site.
When we were at 2000 feet the pilot told us about a group he had taken up a few days before. Apparently, because of the early start-time, this group arrived straight from a nightclub and were still very drunk. He did take them up despite this, but they mostly hid down in the basket feeling tired and ill and he even heard cried of ‘are we there yet’. Most of them didn’t even get to enjoy the view! Apparently, they only perked up when offered a glass of ‘hair of the dog’ champagne after the balloon had landed. What a complete waste!