Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2006 - Review
The 28th annual Bristol Balloon Fiesta took place between 11th and 14th August 2006. Discovery Channel were the title sponsors for a second year running, with Bailey Balloons operating their N-90 envelope, G-BWUU.
Balloon crews and pilots met at Queen Square at sunrise for the press launch, ahead of the fiesta weekend. It was very similar to 2005, with local round balloons attending including British Airways, A-GAS, Fishtank, Bristol Uni, Somerfield, G-CDGN, Adez and Royal Navy.
Now all eyes were on Thursday 11th; fingers crossed for flyable weather.
Thursday Special Shape Rodeo
The first day of the fiesta arrived and there were special shapes in the arena for the shapes rodeo, but not in the sky. The winds were too strong to free fly and the balloons were bashed around as the wind whipped through. Usual fiesta shapes tethered including Phoenix Balloons’ IKEA, the Stowells wine box piloted by Flying Enterprises and Airship & Balloon Company’s (ABC) Monster.
Lindstrand had a new Stroud & Swindon house shape, which would attend the fiesta for several years, registered G-CDWV. Cadburys’ Crème Egg special shape made its second ever appearance at the fiesta after tethering in 2004 on Saturday afternoon. It was built in Bristol all the way back in 1989! For the final year, ABC brought back their enormous Tesco trolley balloon to tether. We suspect this was the last time it was ever inflated before being de-registered to America and stored with the mysterious Linas Mastis, but unsure. 2006 was the only year that the two LG phone balloons attended, which was a very short contract. They also attended Château-d'Œx in Switzerland. Both built in 2006 and owned in Spain, EC-JNO was a round with add-ons and EC-JNN a proper phone special shape.
Thursday Night Glow
The wind died down enough to allow the night glow to go ahead as planned. Although still a little blustery, it wasn’t enough to cause any problems. Replacing Bailey Balloons’ G-CDIT, EDF Energy’s brand new balloon took part in the glow alongside others including the Stroud & Swindon round balloon, Vodka Kick, Nokia, Fishtank and Adez.
The first ascent of the 2006 fiesta went ahead, although only about 35 pilots decided to go flying. Discovery Channel was first to go, climbing high and reporting the conditions back to the flying committee. Phoenix Balloons tethered their IKEA special shape after the flying to end a gloomy morning in Bristol. The 'proper' LG phone special shape tethered alongside IKEA after the launch. After this it was seen in Barneveld, Holland and Château-d'Oex, Switzerland, after which the contract with LG ended and not been seen since.
Friday Evening + Saturday
The next three planned mass ascents were cancelled due to bad weather. On Saturday morning decent amount of tethering took place with the Chubb Fire Extinguisher, Monster, EDF Energy, IKEA round, Harveys and Bertie Bassett. This is the newest of two Bertie special shapes, G-BZTS, and did not attend again until the 40th anniversary in 2018. Churchill tethered here making its only appearance at the 2006 fiesta.
Click here to watch a short time lapse video.
A few teams tethered on Saturday night including the Papillion orange special shape, Discovery Channel, G-BICU, EDF and LG.
Saturday Night Glow
Despite the launch cancellations, the second night glow got the green light from the flying committee, but was significantly reduced in size compared to Thursday’s. Around ten balloons glowed including Fishtank, LG EC-JNO, Brian Currie, Cameron Balloons, Discovery Channel and Astra.
Unsurprisingly the morning launch was also called off because of weather. Although still very breezy, some tethering did take place on Sunday afternoon and the crowd were treated to see an impressive, brand new special shape fresh from the Cameron’s factory. The creation of Belgium balloon Mister Bup, registered OO-BUP, was completed just before the fiesta began, so it made sense to bring it along. Don Cameron was seen doing TV interviews with the friendly turtle character seen in the background inflated by pilot Lenny Cant. It looked brilliant and was the best they could do in the harsh weekend conditions. Mister Bup came back to Bristol in 2009. Other tethered balloons were Stroud & Swindon house, the Cockerel and LG EC-JNO.
Bailey Balloons had some fun inflating Discovery Channel, with a man stood on top of the balloon for a while! Sadly, the weather wasn’t good enough to see it, but the cathedral special shape was around the back of the marquee in its trailer in 2006 - maybe even in that white rental van seen above.
Thank you to Phil’s Balloons and Ballooning Pictures for providing photos.
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If you would like to read more of our fiesta reviews from 2004 to 2020, click here.
Written by Matt Joyce 23/01/19