PHOTOS: See Northampton from a new angle as the Chronicle & Echo takes a hot air balloon trip over town

Northampton Town Centre begins to stir and the market sets up to trade.
Northampton Town Centre begins to stir and the market sets up to trade.

It was too good an opportunity to pass. The Molly Mae team’s balloon could be off the ground at 6am, and sunrise would be 15 minutes later.

It led to these spectacular shots of Northampton by air, snapped by photographer Kirsty Edmonds in the early hours of September 1.

Sunrise on the National Lift Tower and the Six Fields pitch.

Sunrise on the National Lift Tower and the Six Fields pitch.

As the ground-level fog burned up and the town woke up, the Molly Mae lifted off from Obelisk Rise, Kingsthorpe, drifted past the Racecourse and glided over town centre. Northampton seemed like child’s playmat.

It’s an experience pilot Jamie Edwards, 28, says too many people miss out on for no reason at all.

“Ballooning is dying out in Northampton,” says Jamie. “We used to have over 30 pilots in the town. We’re down to about eight these days.

“Even at the annual balloon festival, very few are actually from Northampton.”

The Chronicle & Echo were in the air for 6am - just in time for sunrise.

The Chronicle & Echo were in the air for 6am - just in time for sunrise.

Jamie leads the Molly Mae balloon team, named after his baby daughter who sadly passed away in 2008 after being born very premature.

“I sort of promised myself then to live life to the full,“ Jamie said.

“Ballooning is very peaceful as a hobby. There’s nothing like it. You go at a much slower pace than flying or skydiving or anything else and you get to take it all in.”

But Jamie worries that the myths of ballooning keep people from ever stepping into the basket. Namely, many fear the trip is unsafe, and the occasional news report of crash landings put many people off. Even as the Chron’s flight makes its bumpy landing in a field five miles south of Roade, the basket almost tips all the passengers out. But this is part of the fun for such a smooth trip.

The crew of the Molly Mae balloon team.

The crew of the Molly Mae balloon team.

Jamie said: “It’s a hundred times safer than driving. We go through so many safety checks before the flight. There are specialised baskets for disabled people too.

"The Molly Mae team is a non-profit group of hobbyists. Anyone can join and fly with us if they're prepared to help set up and pack away the balloons.

“I worry that if unless people find it in them to give ballooning a go then it could die out in Northampton.”

For more information on Jamie's team, visit their website or find them on Facebook.

The Mounts at 1,800ft.

The Mounts at 1,800ft.