Our two special shapes and hopper were tethered alongside each other at Ashton Court on Sunday 18th July. No fiesta, no event, just a normal evening in Bristol! Read all about the evening below.
As some of you will know, I have recently purchased two Cameron special shapes, the first being ex Flying Pictures Joycam Lips, jointly owned, which we kept secret for nearly six months before revealing on 16th June. And the second, a classic Bristol special shape, Choc Dips, now rebranded as Ohoo Dips alongside Colt 17A hopper.
We arranged a tether of them both which gave us chance to look over them properly and of course see them hot inflated for the first time under our ownership. We kept these inflations secret although some people were lucky enough to see them on their evening walk around the estate or while walking their dog!
Then an idea came into my head. Could I arrange to get all three of them inflated together? It would be the first time two special shapes (not add-ons!) have been inflated together in Bristol outside of an event for many, many years. I decided to wait a few weeks and then try to arrange something!
A great spell of weather was forecasted with light winds and sunshine arriving across most of the country on Friday 15th, which would be perfect for our tether. The long range was showing Saturday and Sunday to be fine conditions, so, once the insurance on all three balloons was sorted, I began speaking to some local pilots in the hope of making this tether happen.
The day of the tether
Around five days later after lots of phone calls and text messages, everything was arranged for a 6pm meeting time at Ashton Court bowl on Sunday 18th July. Temperatures were hitting 31 degrees during a UK ‘heatwave’; what better time to inflate some heavy special shape balloons!?
At 3pm I posted on MJ Ballooning’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:
“Tonight, our two special shapes and hopper will be inflated at Ashton Court from 7pm. Balloon teams are also expected to be flying from Bristol tonight.”
We arrived at 5:30pm to an almost deserted field with the balloons in the van, and shortly after Mike, Steve and Bradley arrived with their baskets and kits. We pulled out Lips and Choc Dips with the hopper in the centre and began setting up baskets and 3-point tethers in anticipation for fans on at 7:15pm. Some considerable time was spent ensuring the Velcro’s on Lips were correctly sealed, checking all twelve, otherwise some of the lips would not inflate properly. Although these don’t provide lift and are only warm during flight, we wanted to make sure each one was properly checked and ready.
Photo: Allie Dunnington (taken from Virgin Balloons)
Vehicles were arranged, balloons led out, tethers set up and fans ready for cold inflation. Meanwhile, six balloon teams were taking off around us ready to enjoy a flight over the city - Virgin, Tribute, Bateman Skips, Pump Wright, Anana and BWS.
Fans were turned on and pilots ensured parachutes were tabbed in correctly before the nod from me to get ready to hot inflate at 7:30pm. I was on the burners of the Choc Dips special shape for the second time, in position and waiting for Steve to begin on Lips. It was great fun and crazy to think I was inflating the shape I loved and watched fly from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta as a 12-year-old child. All three stood up simultaneously, quite a sight for the small crowd that had gathered!
I hopped out the basket and Brad took over while I got some photos. We stayed tethered for 25 minutes as the last two balloons flew before pulling down and the long process of packing away. Yes, they are extremely heavy! Apart from the hopper, of course.
Photos: Ballooning Pictures UK
View the full photo album here. Video coming soon with drone footage (thanks Grant!)
A huge thank you to pilots Steve Withers, Bradley Lewis, Mike Woodcock and Andy Booth for helping make this amazing day possible; something I have dreamed about for many years but never imagined it would come true. Thanks to Dan Whitelock for being van driver and main crew man, plus everyone else that helped with setting the balloons up and packing away.
Looking forward to our next events Abingdon Firework Festival and Telford Balloon Fiesta.
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