One of the highlights of the UK ballooning calendar, the Midlands Air Festival, returns to Ragley Hall in May 2020. Running from Friday afternoon to Sunday with a range of air displays filling the Warwickshire skies, over 100 hot air balloons will also be on display with some spectacular special shapes booked to attend.
2020 Dates: Friday 29 - Sunday 31 May 2020, Ragley Hall, Alcester
We spoke to Midlands Air Festival co-organiser James McDonald to ask him a few questions about this year and which special shape balloons we can expect to see.
So James, what do you get up to day-to-day?
For my day job I am a 24 year old accountant, and in my spare time fly hot air balloons when the weather allows. I am also the co-organiser of the annual Midlands Air Festival!
How did the idea of starting Midlands Air Festival come about?
Trev Graham had the idea for a combined air show, hot air balloon festival and nightfire for the past five years. We discussed it at the Eastbourne Balloon Festival during the many rainy hours that weekend! I said, count me in!
How do you organise a balloon / air festival?
Firstly, a superb venue is required and we found that in both Ragley and Arbury Hall with their beautiful extensive grounds, sheltered take-off areas and vast space for public and participants alike. The venues are in Class G airspace and there are few SAs (sensitive areas) around.
Next is a hardworking team and between Trev and I many hours were spent on the background details to allow a public event to function, from trade to parking. An experienced team on the day is also required, and who better than Colin Butter to be our flying director, with the support of my parents, Martyn Jeynes as the excellent LRO (landowner relations officer), assistance from Teresa Witchell, Sally Adie and Peter Gray plus Trev as a night glow director. With all these items in place you are about 50% of the way there, with the remaining 50% to be done on the day reacting to situations as they arise.
What are your favourite special shapes you’ve booked in the last 2 years?
The Superbike due to its shear size as well as it making its first festival flying appearance during our first year. Both Bertie Bassett special shapes because these were my favourite as a child plus the brilliant Babybel! From 2019 the UP balloon was a classic as well as the rare appearance of both Otti and Ordnance Survey Map!
What can we expect in 2020?
Bigger, better, a fantastic display of balloons, aircraft and other attractions. We will be returning to our home of Ragley Hall so it will be a cracker of a setting for a third superb show!
And what everyone is wondering, are there any special shapes in store?
Of course! We are working hard to make this year even more special from the last with over 30 special shapes taking part once again consisting of those classic favourites as well as some fantastic shapes that haven't been seen for years. And if that isn't enough, this year there will also be airships taking part in the display plus a WORLD EXCLUSIVE, so stay tuned!
Thanks to James for answering these few questions and we're looking forward to seeing what is planned for May. Be sure not to miss out and get your tickets now!
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