A retired RAF airman from Kettering proved age should not mean you lose your sense of adventure when he took to the skies in a hot air balloon at the age of 80.
The balloon flight, was bought as a surprise present for Robert Steward by his son Rob who came to watch the Virgin balloon take off from the village of Hanging Houghton near Daventry.
Robert has always been a keen flyer and six years ago took a trip in a seaplane when visiting relatives in Canada. The hot air balloon ride was next on his list – an experience he says he’d recommend to everyone.
He said: “I love going in planes, but in the balloon it’s totally different – you get a 360 degree view and the lift off was so calm and serene.
“I feel really lucky that I managed to fly on my first booking - other passengers on the day had been unlucky with the weather and had cancellations. I could hardly sleep the night before, I was so excited.”
“Everyone thought I was mad doing something so adventurous at my age, but there is really nothing about the balloon ride that you should be scared of. It was actually really peaceful and the early morning frost gave us some beautiful countryside views.”
Robert says he lost his sense of direction a little when up in the air, but pilot Peter Philpott kept him well informed on the surroundings.
He added: “I think I was too busy admiring the countryside to spot anything I could really recognise, but the pilot and his crew were pointing out different things when we flew over Daventry.”
The only real complaint Robert had was that the experience seemed to literally fly-by.
“I couldn’t believe it when we came to land. I asked the pilot if we’d been flying for an hour and he actually said we’d actually been up for an hour and a quarter, which made me feel even luckier.”
Robert’s philosophy is that you have to take up as many opportunities as you can in life and likes the fact he still has plenty of fun stories to tell his eight grandchildren.
“Growing old comes far too quickly, you have to take up these opportunities while you still can.”