Families out on their weekend walk, cyclists, runners, and dog walkers were treated to an unexpected display of 10 balloons flying and tethering at a chilly Ashton Court on Sunday 23rd January: an unusual sight for this time of year.
We’re all too used to freezing cold temperatures and strong winds (in ballooning terms, anyway!) day after day during this part of winter, eagerly waiting for spring to arrive, but this year has been a little different. Throughout the last few weeks winds have remained calm and despite the not completely ideal ground conditions, some pilots have ventured out on a winter flight. Balloons include Phoenix Balloons’ concept G-CBVD, Illusion Fireworks operated by Sky High Ballooning, G-BVEN and Prestige Grounds, most having flown out of main Bristol launch site Ashton Court. Find photos via our Twitter feed and Facebook page.
A handful of pilots also took the opportunity to hop around the bowl at Ashton Court, including Allie Dunnington with her G-CIPD Cameron hopper, BUHABS and Airship & Balloon Company with their retro silver Virgin hopper - on some beautiful mornings with frost on the ground and an amazing sunrise.
Saturday 15th January saw Bristol Balloon Collectors, impressively now with over 60 balloons, arrange a tether of four old envelopes. These included Cameron V-77’s G-BYLY and G-BWKV, Thunder & Colt 120A G-OCPS and Cameron V-90 G-BSWX.
A week later with conditions still calm enough for ballooning, we were planning a trip up to Ashton Court on Sunday. What we didn’t know is that lots of others were too! We arrived to a tiny 42 purple viva built by Cameron Balloons in 1995 hopping around; incredibly its first ever flight in Bristol. G-BRMU, B&A Group and G-CBWK soon joined them, giving onlookers quite the show as they slowly drifted across the field. The morning also gave pilots and crews the opportunity to check new burners, baskets and give the balloons an airing after being away for months.
A slow south easterly wind was forecast, which would take you out towards Avonmouth, so far from ideal from Ashton Court but absolutely fine for some low-level hopping fun! It didn’t turn out quite as calm as expected with 9 knot gusts occasionally, however it didn’t cause any trouble for the pilots.
Ben’s Tiles and SM Gauge also made an appearance alongside the Lindstrand Tech London Skyline balloon, which was inflated for a few minutes before being pulled down again. At one point we forgot we were in Bristol; it was more like the icicle balloon meet!
To finish off the morning Bristol Balloon Collectors had again brought along 3 of their old balloons, the first of which being G-BTEE, a Cameron O-120 built in 1991 with Welsh flag artwork. Brightly pink coloured G-SLCE was the second, a Cameron C-80. Look closely and you’ll notice some thin white inflatable tubes hanging down from the top. These were added in the past to keep the balloon inflated like a bouncy castle whilst people walked inside. Variety Club was the final one of the collection to be inflated, a Colt 90A which Thunder & Colt built 31 years ago.
Check out Bristol Balloon Collectors’ collection in full here.
Meanwhile many passing through the estate were stopping to take pictures, lots of people not seeing balloons unless they visit the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, or they fly over their house! Although living in Bristol it’s a lot more common than other areas.
An enjoyable morning had by all balloonists and passersby, and great to see everyone as always.
It’s been too long since our last blog; we hope all our followers are keeping well and looking forward to an exciting year of flying ahead, we certainly are!
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Keep following us in all the usual ways @mjballooning for local flight updates and photos. Our Live Flight Updates link will be updated every day for every launch from 1st March. Send us your photos if you spot a balloon team out on a winter flight, we’d love to see!
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