Ballooning News Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2017
On this page you can find out what balloons might be attending this year's fiesta with an insight into who operates them.
Just 3 days to go until this year's Bristol Balloon Fiesta! We're on team JEMS for 2017, an Ultramagic balloon made of lightweight material. It was built last year and has attended the Bath Balloon Fiesta, Longleat Sky Safari and Strathaven Balloon Festival, amongst others. It will be flying at every mass ascent and hopefully the weather allows us to have our first ever flight from the Fiesta, and second from Bristol!
The Thursday evening mass ascent will see special shapes, sponsor and ride balloons take to the skies of Bristol weather permitting. You can find out the 2017 line-up of special shapes on Wednesday when we announce them on Facebook and Twitter! After an afternoon of tethering, balloons teams will begin to set up and inflate, taking off at 6:30pm onwards. This is a great launch to go and watch if you love the shaped balloons, as most will be inflated, with some remaining tethered. Below are some of the balloons you can expect to see.
Possible round balloons you can see on Thursday (Flying or Tethering - not all will appear and others will appear too):
Photos from past Special Shape Rodeos:
Here are the balloons built in 2017 by Cameron Balloons you can see at the Fiesta. Pretty impressive, right? Most we have already spoken about below. G-OWLY was revealed for the first time back in June when we had the mini heatwave, with 12 balloons taking off from Ashton Court that evening too! Lighter Than Air are bringing Teenage Cancer Trust and CJ Hole probably only to glow, but we're also hoping that Busby will appear. Bailey Balloons' new ride balloon was completed in April and has flown over Bristol and Bath a few times. It's an A-300, replacing their old Z-275. Possibly the largest number of new balloons attending ever this year! Lindstrand Technologies we expect will be bringing their new demos along too.
The brand new Cathay Pacific is confirmed to appear at this years Fiesta. It was built earlier this year by the skilled team at Cameron Balloons in Bedminster and test inflated in around May time. This is the second balloon for Cathay Pacific, with the first being made in 1986. Registered G-CXCX.
This year's Fiesta has 2 night glow as usual, on Thursday 10th and Saturday 12th August. The glow will follow this schedule for both days:
20:00 - Balloons Set Up
20:30 - Model Balloons Set Up and Glow
21:00 - Model Balloons Deflate
21:00 - Night Glow Countdown Begins
21:15 - Night Glow Begins
21:45 - Night Glow Ends
21:45 - Firework Display
Even though the balloons will be of course tethered to the ground, it is still weather dependant but glows are not often cancelled. The arena is very sheltered, especially with a westerly wind, and the balloon teams can purposely inflate closely to the balloons next to them to stop them moving around once fully inflated. Make sure you arrive early because it will soon get packed. Up to 30 balloons will be taking part, including some brand new ones!
Yesterday evening saw the maiden flight of the brand new Thatchers Cider hot air balloon G-CKEG Here are all of First Flight's balloons, all built by Cameron's, and all will be at the fiesta this year. Thatchers are fiesta partners, so they will be at the press launch next week. Tribute are as well, but their balloon is a 210, which is much larger than Thatchers and there is limited space at the launch site.
Photos of maiden flight (credit: First Flight):
G-NFVB's test inflation was completed today, along with Thatchers' at Ashton Court by the Cameron Balloons team. Now waiting for its maiden flight and it will be attending the balloon fiesta with Bristol Balloons, Bath Building Society and Park Furnishers.
Photo Credit: Bath Balloons / Ballooning Network
18 days to go until the 2017 Bristol Balloon Fiesta! Here's the schedule.
Over 130 balloons are entered, but remember that ballooning is completely weather dependant. Also the ascents may be slightly later on evenings sometimes if pilots need to wait for the wind to drop out. More info available on our website, it's set to be another great fiesta!
Brand new Cameron balloon for First Flight with Thatchers Cider sponsoring. It will join their fleet of Tribute, TVE Group and Pattersons.
"Things are ‘hotting’ up here at Thatchers and we are excited for our next project to take off!"
Watch our video of recent special shapes at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta! Includes the Scottish Piper, Churchill, Mister Bup, Palletways Dragon and many more old favourites. MJ Ballooning social media is the place to be on 9th August when we announce all confirmed 2017 special shapes, one every hour throughout the day!
The Discover Waterford balloon team will be returning to Ashton Court once again this August. The balloon was built by Cameron Balloons in 2008 and is a Z-90.
Built by Lindstrand, D-OKAP will be returning to Bristol for another year. We saw it fly on the windy Saturday evening last year, but then in light winds on Sunday morning, drifting slowly towards Nailsea before finally coming back over the arena. This means G-KSKS will not be attending.
Some exciting news about this year's press launch, but in the meantime we look back at previous year's launches at different locations across Bristol. From flying dragon special shapes to brand new power ranger balloons, we've had it all!
It's 50 years since Don Cameron, founder of Cameron Balloons and the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, built the first ever modern hot air balloon in western Europe. Cameron Balloons' oldest balloon, the Bristol Belle registered G-AVTL, tethered next to the solar balloon from 6am this morning, which uses the latest cutting edge technology! The solar balloon is black and silver in colour, made from lightweight polyurethane coated nylon. The black section attracts heat and silver part keeps the heat trapped inside the envelope, so when the pilot wants to go higher the black fabric simply needs to be turned towards the sun. There are still burners in the basket, but in 2015 from the Fiesta on Friday morning they only had to be used 3 times! The tether also marks one month to go until the 39th Fiesta.
The launch of the 2017 Bristol Balloon Fiesta charity partnership took place this evening at Ashton Court with the Great Western Air Ambulance. Phoenix Balloons tethered G-CIRX, the solar balloon, which now has a new banner attached advertising Bristol Energy, who are this year's title sponsor. They tethered for around 30 minutes for the ITV and BBC news teams. One month to go until the official press launch!
We saw G-SUED attend the fiesta 2 years ago and this year it's coming back. In 2015 it flew towards the end of the Friday evening mass ascent and tethered Saturday morning. It was built by Thunder & Colt in 1990.
As you can see above, we are announcing all confirmed special shapes the day before the fiesta throughout the whole day. Shapes you see on this page are not confirmed and may not attend, so you will have to visit MJ Ballooning on Facebook and Twitter on 9th August to find out!
Modemakers are returning to Bristol this year after a year away from the fiesta. The A-210 attended in 2014 and flew from most of the launches with the Smurf special shape, which is also from Belgium. For 2017, they're bringing OO-BNL, their Z-120, that we saw in 2015 when it was built by Cameron Balloons. We are looking forward to seeing them at the fiesta and hopefully flying alongside them!
Today the new Cameron Balloons special shape was unveiled at Belvoir Fruit Farms' farm near Nottingham. The balloon will be operated by Bailey Balloons and join their fleet of ride balloons. It holds 95,000cu feet of air, which is 10,000 less than the standard sized 105 round balloon, and stands 31m high.
More information and photos can be found on Bailey Balloons' website: http://www.baileyballoons.co.uk/news/the-belvoir-drop-balloon-launches/
All will be revealed on 14th or 15th June when, if the weather permits, the balloon will fly for the first time from the farm. It will be operated by a Bristol-based flight company and you can see it in Bristol in August!
The Trescal balloon PH-TRE is coming back to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta this year. The Cameron Z-150 made its Bristol debut in 2016, flying both Sunday slots and glowing on Saturday.
An American pilot is having a new balloon built, which is currently under construction. He also flies the very popular Angry Bird balloon, which is a regular sight in America, especially at Albuquerque. This new balloon we believe to be a Z-105 with 3D inflatable letters for a new American movie called 2.0, which is being built by Cameron Balloons US. It will also include digitally printed art. We can't wait to see photos and hopefully we will see it at the fiesta!
Fresh out of the Cameron Balloons factory, this stunning O-84 had its maiden flight a few days ago in Gloucestershire, and is known as Bluebell. You'll be able to see this balloon at events around the UK, including Longleat and Bristol!
Photo Credit: Thomas Lee
Last month we saw the Airship & Balloon Company's Minion special shape fly across the channel with 81 other balloons. Following on from our last post about the minions, G-DMES has been rebuilt at the bottom, now known as 'Prison Stuart'. We're hopeful that both shapes will be inflated at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, as they're starting a European tour in Germany in June.
Photo Credit: Rabbits Ballooning Team
Hopefully we will see the UP special shape attend the fiesta for its 6th year. It wasn't there last year, which must have been due to it being abroad shortly before and not being able to return in time. It was built in 2009 for Disney movie UP, and in 2009 was operated by Exclusive Ballooning when they used the inflatable house cover on the basket. This is not used anymore because the contract has ended, and it was given to Cameron Balloons to use in 2010. We'll announce if it's confirmed on 9th August, make sure you don't miss it!
It's not as boring as it sounds! The BBM&L have brought many old special shapes to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta the last few years.
The BBM&L will hopefully be returning this year with 2 special shapes from their collection that they haven't inflated at Bristol recently, so none from the above are expected to appear. We will announce on 9th August which envelopes are attending on Facebook and Twitter! Maybe the Ariel Bottle, or something like that...
For the last 3 years Ballooningmedia's L.E Electrical light bulb shape has become a familiar sight in Bristol each August. It's very likely that it will be attending again in 2017. Although we didn't see the Satzenbrau Bottle make an appearance last year, it may be coming once again. The newest of their fleet is the Southern Plasticlad 105, which was built by Lindstrand Technologies last year just in time for the fiesta. It will of course be returning, hopefully alongside both of their special shapes.
Lighter Than Air Ltd's Teenage Cancer Trust balloon is complete and was test inflated by Cameron Balloons last week. The first of their special shapes is nearing completion and is expected to be test very soon. No idea what it looks like currently. Their second shape, also made by Cameron's, will be ready in winter 2017.
Credit: Liam Whitelock Credit: Lighter Than Air
Cameron Balloons have completed manufacturing the BWS Standfast Z-105 and 31 hopper. They test inflated them at Ashton Court and here they are! The hopper wires are temporary and will be replaced very soon. The Z-105 will definitely be at the fiesta, and they're hoping to glow both next to each other.
This new Cameron O-31 hopper balloon was launched at Norwich Cathedral this week. The manufacturing process was finished in 2016, but it's only been brought out of its bag now. You can see the hopper, which advertises the charity Beat and is piloted by Chris Dobson, at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta this year if accepted.
Balloonists are waiting to hear from the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta flying committee about their applications. Apparently nobody will be rejected this year, unless they demand money, which is what usually happens with pilots of special shapes.
See our post about the Minion from earlier in March below if you haven't already. There were two identical Minion special shapes that Cameron Balloons built in 2013, G-DMES and G-DMEZ. The other morning we saw on Instagram a photo a user had posted of one of the minions being test inflated in the public park, Ashton Court. This is odd, seeing as they built the minions four years ago. Then we looked closely at the photo and realised there had been a significant artwork change made to the bottom of the balloon. Stuart previously wore predominantly blue, but now has been changed. It turns out it had been in Cameron's for a little while and the bottom of the balloon had a complete rebuild. We don't know which minion has been changed. If the cross channel flight is called on for Sunday morning, it's likely we'll see the Minion with the new artwork.
The new Despicable Me 3 film comes out at the end of June, so the change must be due to the story line. It's hoped that both balloons will be inflated at the same time at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta this year, seeing as they look different now.
Yesterday Lighter Than Air posted on Facebook:
"Drum roll please...Exciting to go into the Cameron Balloons factory in Bristol today and see the panels for our first brand new Special Shape hot air balloon of the year being cut! Can you guess what it is yet?"
At least two brand new special shapes are currently being built at Cameron Balloons! Very likely they will be at the fiesta, whatever they are. Click HERE to visit our Facebook Page and view the post.
Last year was the first time the Stowells wine box special shape took to the skies since the 2007 fiesta Thursday evening launch. Still in very good condition, but we don't think that G-STOW will appear again this year. The reason is appeared last year was due to the amount of special shapes, and was flown to make up for the lack in numbers. It was built in 1998 by Cameron Balloons and is owned by Flying Enterprises. They also operate Hardys, Fishtank and Raffaelo. The two Power Ranger balloons that we saw in 2015 are no longer in operation and probably won't be seen again. Raffaello, built in 2016, flew from the press launch last year and was expected to attend the fiesta, but did not appear. Fishtank always takes part in the night glows and Hardys will be appearing. We'll update you in the summer to confirm if Raffaello and Stowells are attending.
Ricoh Cube G-RCOH - The Ricoh image change cube has become a familiar sight over Bristol the last few years every August. It's appeared every year since 2013 and it's likely to be coming back, but must be nearing the end of its contract.
Fortnum & Mason Racer G-OTEA - Racer balloons are built for competition flying because they can gain height quicker than the normal 'round' balloon. G-OTEA was unveiled in 2015 at the Saturday AM ascent and flew twice last year too, so we'll probably see it again.
Longleat Lion G-LEAT - Simbaloo the Lion was built last year for Longleat's 50th anniversary and took centre stage at the Sky Safari at Longleat. 2017 will see the second Sky Safari event take place and G-LEAT will hopefully be coming back to Bristol to promote the event. 60 balloons are attending!
Puddles G-UINS and Splash G-UINZ Penguins - The people of Bristol loved the penguins when they came to the fiesta two years ago. Maybe we'll see them in 2017, we will have to wait and see what Exclusive Ballooning's plans are.
Exclusive Ballooning Demo G-OOEY - They will probably bring this balloon along depending on the size of their fleet. If the penguins were to also appear alongside the 4 round balloons, it's unlikely that G-OOEY would attend.
Pirate Ship G-ENMY - Very unlikely we will see this again. Exclusive Ballooning tethered it after the 2015 Friday AM ascent and made its world debut. The ship stands 39m long, 31m high and has a volume of 500,000 cubic feet! It was built 2 years before it finally got out of the bag and attracted lots of attention on social media.
See below what it looks like inside the Keltbray and Longleat Lion balloons!
ABC Flights just attended with their two round balloons, which have no branding, in 2014 (G-CIHN, G-BTHF). In 2015 G-DMEZ attended Thursday and Friday of the event. Last year G-DMEE, the Despicable Me round balloon, was seen flying on all three launches that went ahead. However, it was thought that one of the special shapes would appear and we're unsure why it didn't. The official fiesta even posted it on social media.
This year we're hopeful that we will see 'Stuart' the Minion take to the Bristol skies once again! The Despicable Me 3 film is being released on 30th June 2017 and the fiesta starts on 10th August, so it will probably be there.
We could possibly see them in August or just one of them, but this might just be at the Thursday evening ascent. G-SATL may be flying - you will have to find out on 9th August when we announce which are attending!
Exclusive Ballooning organised the Sky Safari for the first time last year at Longleat and it was a great success. We were lucky enough to fly on two occasions in G-JEMS! We helped out with tethering on Thursday morning and below are our photos. In September we're looking forward to attending once more.
Lighter Than Air Ltd have posted on Facebook saying:
"Here at Lighter Than Air we are exited to see the first panels of one of our brand new hot air balloons being cut at the Cameron Balloons Factory today, the first of many in 2017!!"
We'll let you know if we hear any more, but very exciting news!
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