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It's a long story, but I went to Bhutan in the
eastern Himalayas to make a film about
Antarctica. The hot-air balloonists, whom
I'd met through a writer, were 'collecting'
countries they'd flown in, and were looking
forward to being the first to fly balloons in
Antarctica - by which time, we were all
hoping, I'd have secured a commission to
film the story for TV. However, I needed
some practice at filming from balloons and
microlights, so I was invited to Bhutan - the
next country on their list - to get started. The King of Bhutan had given us permission,
everything was trucked in from India, and everyone survived the experience. I eventually
managed to get a short 'Bhutan' film on Channel 4. This shot is on the only road through
Bhutan, near Tongsa (now called Trongsa), on an early morning tea break at about
11,000ft.
But the Antarctica expedition was called off. Whilst doing a recce on the Russian base that
we were to be stationed on, the Swiss pilot slipped on the ice and broke his arm. It couldn't
be set until he'd got back to Switzerland. Then a Norwegian from the twice-yearly supply
ship (and our potential delivery vessel) fell down a crevasse and, because none of the
Russian tractors worked, he couldn't be rescued. He's still there. It was clear that it would
be suicide to attempt some dangerous flying - the balloons would go up like rockets -
where there was no logistical or emergency support. So the idea had to be abandoned. I
later discovered that they wouldn't have been the first anyway - Scott had had a tethered
balloon on the Ross Sea ice in fateful 1911.
It's a long story, but I went to Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas to make a film about
Antarctica. The hot-air balloonists, whom I'd met through a writer, were 'collecting' countries
they'd flown in, and were looking forward to being the first to fly balloons in Antarctica - by
which time, we were all hoping, I'd have secured a commission to film the story for TV.
However, I needed some practice at filming from balloons and microlights, so I was invited to
Bhutan - the next country on their list - to get started. The King of Bhutan had given us
permission, everything was trucked in from India, and everyone survived the experience. I
eventually managed to get a short 'Bhutan' film on Channel 4. This shot is on the only road
through Bhutan, near Tongsa (now called Trongsa), on an early morning tea break at about
11,000ft.
But the Antarctica expedition was called off. Whilst doing a recce on the Russian base that we
were to be stationed on, the Swiss pilot slipped on the ice and broke his arm. It couldn't be set
until he'd got back to Switzerland. Then a Norwegian from the twice-yearly supply ship (and
our potential delivery vessel) fell down a crevasse and, because none of the Russian tractors
worked, he couldn't be rescued. He's still there. It was clear that it would be suicide to
attempt some dangerous flying - the balloons would go up like rockets - where there was no
logistical or emergency support. So the idea had to be abandoned. I later discovered that
they wouldn't have been the first anyway - Scott had had a tethered balloon on the Ross Sea
ice in fateful 1911.
It's a long story, but I went to Bhutan in the
eastern Himalayas to make a film about
Antarctica. The hot-air balloonists, whom I'd
met through a writer, were 'collecting'
countries they'd flown in, and were looking
forward to being the first to fly balloons in
Antarctica - by which time, we were all hoping,
I'd have secured a commission to film the story
for TV. However, I needed some practice at
filming from balloons and microlights, so I was
invited to Bhutan - the next country on their list
- to get started. The King of Bhutan had given us permission, everything was trucked in from
India, and everyone survived the experience. I eventually managed to get a short 'Bhutan'
film on Channel 4. This shot is on the only road through Bhutan, near Tongsa (now called
Trongsa), on an early morning tea break at about 11,000ft.
But the Antarctica expedition was called off. Whilst doing a recce on the Russian base that we
were to be stationed on, the Swiss pilot slipped on the ice and broke his arm. It couldn't be set
until he'd got back to Switzerland. Then a Norwegian from the twice-yearly supply ship (and
our potential delivery vessel) fell down a crevasse and, because none of the Russian tractors
worked, he couldn't be rescued. He's still there. It was clear that it would be suicide to
attempt some dangerous flying - the balloons would go up like rockets - where there was no
logistical or emergency support. So the idea had to be abandoned. I later discovered that
they wouldn't have been the first anyway - Scott had had a tethered balloon on the Ross Sea
ice in fateful 1911.

Bhutan dawn

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It's a long story, but I went to Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas to make a film about Antarctica.  The hot-air balloonists, whom I'd met through a writer, were 'collecting' countries they'd flown in, and were looking forward to being the first to fly balloons in Antarctica - by which time, we were all hoping, I'd have secured a commission to film the story for TV. However, I needed some practice at filming from balloons and microlights, so I was invited to Bhutan - the next country on their list - to get started.  The King of Bhutan had given us permission, everything was trucked in from India, and everyone survived the experience. I eventually managed to get a short 'Bhutan' film on Channel 4.  This shot is on the only road through Bhutan, near Tongsa (now called Trongsa), on an early morning tea break at about 11,000ft.
But the Antarctica expedition was called off. Whilst doing a recce on the Russian base that we were to be stationed on, the Swiss pilot slipped on the ice and broke his arm. It couldn't be set until he'd got back to Switzerland. Then a Norwegian from the twice-yearly supply ship (and our potential delivery vessel) fell down a crevasse and, because none of the Russian tractors worked, he couldn't be rescued. He's still there. It was clear that it would be suicide to attempt some dangerous flying - the balloons would go up like rockets - where there was no logistical or emergency support. So the idea had to be abandoned.  I later discovered that they wouldn't have been the first anyway - Scott had had a tethered balloon on the Ross Sea ice in fateful 1911.
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