My family and I saw a hot air balloon yesterday while playing in the park. Turns out ballooning has a long history in Oxford, based on this BBC article about James Sadler:
James Sadler: The Oxford balloon man history forgot
From the article:
Balloon fever had struck England 30 years before in 1784 when Sadler had become the first ever Englishman to fly.
Back then, his hot air balloon drifted off from the vast fields by Merton College, Oxford, early on 4 October and rose about 3,600 ft (1097m) in the air.
Further on in the article it mentions:
And such was the lack of information about our skies that some people thought you could use a paddle to row in the sky.
Sadler had been warned he might collide with Heaven, and that sky dragons might come and attack him.
He was so famous that he once went to Cheltenham in 1785 to conduct a balloon flight and the entire town closed.
Unfortunately we couldn’t really see who it was flying the balloon yesterday. To the anonymous pilot (is that what you call someone who flies a balloon?), thank you for brightening up our day. I hope you made it past the sky dragons safely.