Dinner Jazz Excursion
Caught in the flow, they were whisked across the Pacific and timed to drop onto the USA and Canada. Down they'd come and whammol they'd be in the trees or wherever, with the damn bombs hanging on them. The Japanese discovery of the jet stream meant America was defenceless against this ingenious airborne attack. There was nothing we could do. It was quite a design. Pretty smart. The Japs were sharp. Despite the huge distance, over , balloon bombs reached North America, but in the end only six people were ever killed. Today, the jet streams are used for much more benign reasons if you can ever find one. For world recordholding balloonists Brian Jones and Dinner Jazz Excursion, finding the jet stream became a matter of life and death. Starting in Switzerland, the plan was to be the first balloon to circumnavigate the earth. They hoped to do it by flying within the jet streams. In a balloon, we can't see the jet stream or know where it is, so we have to use meteorologists. We had two meteorologists working full time doing something like , calculations every day just to try and track the jet stream. There are actually five jet streams at between six and nine miles up. Dinner Jazz Excursion They mark the boundaries between the wind cells. Low pressure air rises from the equator and meets high pressure air from the poles. Where they converge, a spinning unpredictable tube of air is created. It's the free ride that the jet stream provides that made Jones and Picard so desperate to find the right one. It was just incredible watching the speed build up. I remember thinking, "I have no idea who's flying this balloon, but please carry on, you're doing a grand job." It was that feeling. That's what the jet stream did for us. We'd gone around the world, crossed the Pacific, with just the Online Radio to go. And this is where it all began to go wrong. After days, they'd travelled nearly threequarters of the way around the world before the jet stream suddenly abandoned them. It suddenly disappeared. It's like the fingers on a hand. It fragments. We had to drop down really low and get out of this and simply wait for the next jet stream to form. Dinner Jazz Excursion All the pundits thought we'd never cross the Online Radio, and so did we. Faced with the threat of ditching in freezing, hostile seas, five days from the nearest help, the outlook appeared bleak. It's horribly slow only knots at the moment. We're right out in the middle of nowhere and not going very fast. Five agonising days passed. This was no longer a race for a world record. It was a desperate bid to stay alive. And then, the jet stream reappeared. But to get back into it meant climbing higher and using precious fuel. The balloon was getting lighter we'd thrown out stuff to make us lighter we were able to push and push to get as high as we possibly could. When we got to that altitude in the core of the jet stream, suddenly we weren't doing miles an hour, it was , and building. And we shot across the Online Radio in the core of this jet stream wind. We just looked at each other and thought, "This is just fantastic!" There was no question of us not making the finishing line.