Sheffield primary school pupils receive special visit from hot air balloon pilot

The week got off to a flying start for pupils at a Sheffield primary school who received a special visit from a hot air balloon pilot.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 12:01 pm
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 6:19 pm
Children at the Arbourthorne primary School were lucky enough to get a visit from the Virgin Air Balloon team

The group of Year 1 pupils at Arbourthorne Community Primary School were treated to a rare visit from Virgin Balloon Flights, on November 4, to aid their studies around the topic of travel in which they have been learning about the links between different modes of transport and the geographic exploration of the world.

While it wasn’t possible to inflate the hot air balloon on the water-logged playing field, the visit was still a big hit with the children who were given the chance to climb into the balloon basket.

And despite a further downpour, Virgin Balloons pilot Tom Hook was able to demonstrate the burners and explain how the air is heated in the balloon, giving the youngsters an insight on what it’s like to fly hot air balloons and the science behind how they fly.

Children at the Arbourthorne primary School were lucky enough to get a visit from the Virgin Air Balloon team

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Caroline Nowill, Year 1 teacher and Key Stage 1 Phase Leader, said: “The children have enjoyed sharing the story of Jules Vernes’ classic ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ which mentions the suggestion of using a hot air balloon to cross the Atlantic. The children were intrigued by this and had lots of questions around whether a hot air balloon could circumnavigate the globe.

“Having never seen one before limited their knowledge base and understanding so we got in contact with Virgin who were happy to facilitate a visit.

“Our intention at Arbourthorne Community Primary School is to fill the children's’ curriculum with opportunities which provoke thoughts and emotions beyond that of their daily home lives and the requirements of the national curriculum.”

Pilot Tom spent his whole childhood around hot air balloons, with his parents crewing for many pilots, so at age 19 he embarked on a four-year journey to get his own balloon licence.

Just a few months after getting his licence, Tom qualified for the junior British team and went on to compete at the Junior World Championships in 2016.

He joined the Virgin Balloon team at the start of the 2019 flying season.

With a busy flying schedule running from March to November, it can sometimes prove difficult for Virgin Balloon Flights to conduct school visits as they have to fit in between the pilots flight schedules.

Despite this, the team feel the visits are well worth doing and help bring the topic of air travel to life.