A COUPLE from Worcester have recently completed their 26th balloon flight.

Karen and Phil Hill took their first hot-air balloon flight back in 1998, when Mr Hill celebrated his 50th birthday.

Since then, ballooning has become a real passion for the couple.

Their shared love of ballooning was also a great help to Mrs Hill when she was diagnosed with cancer, 10 years ago.

As she recalls, the thought of returning to the basket motivated her to push through.

For their 26th flight, the couple flew in a Virgin balloon, their 22nd flight with the company.

Mrs Hill said: “We like to fly either from Worcester Racecourse or from Shelsey Walsh as I enjoy seeing familiar landmarks from above.”

The couple have also taken part in two balloon fiestas so far.

They participated in the biggest event of its type, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico, USA, which attracts 600 balloons a year and up to 100,000 spectators.

And more recently, they took part in the Telford Balloon Fiesta, one of the UK’s top five ballooning events, with over 30,000 people attending.

Experienced balloon passengers, Mr and Mrs Hill say they enjoy the adventure provided by ballooning once up in the air.

Moved by winds and air currents high above the ground, each flight will follow its own course on the day, tinged with elements of surprise.

Mrs Hill said: “I find balloon flights so appealing as one gently and steadily rise up into the sky. Then flying along and not knowing where we will be going, but the sense of freedom.

“It is such a beautiful calm way of travelling and the surprise of where the flight will end.”

For 22 of their 26 flights, the couple have chosen Virgin Balloons to transport them.

Mrs Hill said: “The Virgin pilots are wonderful and I trust them to give us a super experience.”

And the couple intend to continue with the flying that has proved so fascinating, with a ballooning trip to Tuscany in Italy in the offing.