Editor's Blog

01/08/2017
Sky's the limit

In my mind it was going to be one of the most memorable experiences probably of my life.

Swinging in a makeshift table 100 feet in the sky, sipping on cocktails as we watched dusk turn to night over London. I'd look down and watch my legs dangling over the Thames. I thought to myself, that'll be the Instagram pic of the night.

But then the storm hit.

I had snagged an invitation to the London launch of the new offer from Events in the Sky, which operates six different experiences for up to 22 guests such as breakfasts and afternoon teas. A crane hoists up the table for each flight - about nine a day and ranging in times from 30 minutes to one-and-a-half hours - which is hosted by an on-board chef or mixologist to make sure all guests are fed and watered.

I arrived with anticipation about two weeks ago, 45 minutes early as instructed for a pre-flight debrief. The dinner flight was up in the air finishing their desserts and we were taken through the safety notes for our turn. We all ignored the dark clouds that were building up around us.

The experience is booked out three months in advance, so getting an elusive seat was a bit cool and I was excited by the whole prospect. It is a wonderful idea for corporate events; imagine entertaining clients with a three-course meal hovering over St Paul's, or enjoying the cool London breeze during a breakfast conference in the sky?

Down came the previous group, all smiles and stories about their wonderful three-course dinner and experience while our cocktail group hurried over to take their spots. I looked up as I was being strapped in to my rollercoaster-like seat; by this stage it had started to rain. Bucket even. But the translucent roof above us meant we weren't getting wet and so I told myself, no big deal.

Some dorky Red Baron aviator goggles and cap had been left on each table setting, surely to make us look like idiots in the professional photographs. I put them on enthusiastically.

Finally we felt the jolt of the crane as our table started to rise. By this stage the city sky had turned black under the thick rain and clouds. A strong wind slapped the rain into our faces as we continued to go upwards, forcing us to hold down our napkins.

We'd only risen about 40 feet when a massive lightning bolt cracked and our operators wasted no time in getting us back on solid ground. Mere seconds later it was all over; I hadn't had time to locate St Paul's Cathedral or make eye contact with anyone below to give a smug wave.

The organisers were apologetic, offering us our cocktail drinks at their warm base which we gladly accepted and telling us that safety had to remain the priority. And of course it must; when you're 100 feet in the air at the end of a crane, you're basically one giant lightning rod.

The depressing thing was just how ill-timed was the storm. Rain certainly isn't a rarity in this country - and London in the Sky flights are designed to weather that - but electrical storms certainly are, and the whole thing was just wonderfully ironic.

But never mind - I at least got to keep the aviator goggles.



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