1967 4th February, on a beautiful calm and sunny day, Malcolm Brighton piloted the 1st balloon to cross the English Channel carrying 5 people. JAMBO, a gas balloon was flown from Rye in Sussex to Berck Plage in France.
JAMBO was better known as the gas balloon flown in Africa by Anthony Smith, and this time his business partner Malcolm Brighton was doing his check out flight with Wing Commander Gerry Turnbull.
Malcolm Brighton was P2, Gerry Turnbull was the examiner on condition that his daughter Christine Turnbull was in the basket, and the passengers were Doddy and Jenny Hay. Doddy Hay was a photographer with a newspaper called the People, and he reckoned he would get better photographs from inside the basket. They flew for 3 hours 45 mins. The safety boat was an 18 foot inshore boat supplied by RFD (Godalming) who made safety equipment and boats, and it came with a suitably clad skipper Mike Davies. He and Giles Camplin, who was not so suitably clad in jeans, sweater and wellies, crossed the channel in their super fast boat. Although the British authorities were helpful, the French authorities were not so good, wagging their fingers at Brighton and co. saying that they had flown an aircraft illegally into France. They confiscated the balloon and curtailed the fliers movements for 3 days until the intervention of Charles Dollfus, Club Vice President of France, and General Cuffaut, director of the Aero Club de France, who made effective protestations to the local French authorities.
Meanwhile Mike Price, the reserve crew had flown from Lydd and hired a car from Le Touquet Airport and was driving up and down the French coast trying to find Giles and the other Mike. Giles and the other Mike had looked unsuccessfully for the balloon for hours and eventually fell asleep on the sand dunes for the night. Giles remembers it was incredibly cold and was amazed they didn’t die. The next day, Giles and Mike found a local gendarmerie and turned themselves in (illegal immigrants). They were given coffee and brandy and sat in front of a large log fire waiting for Malcolm Brighton to find them.
Malcolm got his licence. Doddy got his photographs, Christine got a flight across the channel as a PUT and all was well in the end. As Anthony Smith said in his book, it was the first time he had seen JAMBO take off, he had always been in the basket before, all he did was go back to London and wait on the end of a telephone.
There is a Pathe News clip on http://article.wn.com/view/2014/03/25/Balloonists_massive_liftoff_cancelled/