5WC

G-LSHI Test Inflation

G-LSHI - Test Inflation

31st August 1988 – Oswestry, Shropshire

G-BWKZ Test Inflation

17th January 1996 – Oswestry, Shropshire

G-CDYL Test Inflation

G-CDYL - Test Inflation

20th June 2006 – Oswestry, Shropshire

When balloon took off commercially in the 1980s there were a number of companies who saw their potential, purchased a balloon and then continued to run balloons as a marketing and promotional tool, purchasing new envelopes as wear, tear and logo changes demanded. Budweiser, British Gas, BT spring instantly to mind, but another company who should be added to that list is Lambert Smith Hampton.

Lambert Smith Hampton are a commercial property company, and in the late 1980s my father worked for them as a property management surveyor. The company was looking for innovative corporate hospitality ideas, and while some went horse racing, others smashing plates in the local Greek restaurant, my father took them ballooning. And after the 4th morning’s flying, Lambert Smith Hampton placed an order for their own balloon.

G-LSHI

Arriving in 1988, the balloon was a reflection of the logo at the time. Constructed by Thunder & Colt Balloons in Oswestry, Shropshire, the balloon is a 77,000 cubic foot – 3 person balloon. The balloon was used as a promotional tool for Lambert Smith Hampton, flying guests and tethering around the world, undertaking flights not only all over the UK, but also in France, Austria and Cyprus.

I had my first ever balloon flight in G-LSHI, taking off with my father and a fellow pilot – Paul Hutton – I don’t remember many details of the flight, I was only 6 or 7 at the time, apart from spending the majority of the flight, peering out of the foot step in the basket side wall, like some aeronautical window, and that when we came in to land we hit a hedge!

G-BWKZ

In late 1995 Lambert Smith Hampton merged with another property company, retaining their name but changing their logo to reflect the new entity. As a result, G-LSHI was retired from use and a new envelope purchased. The idea was simple, the balloon would be built in time to launch the rebranded company at their annual ski challenge in Courmayeur, Italy. The only slight problem? There were only a handful of weeks until the first skier hit the slopes.

Lindstrand Balloons, based literally a few yards round the corner from Thunder & Colt, on the same Oswestry industrial estate, stepped up to the challenge, and built a new 77,000 cubic foot balloon ready for the big day. The balloon looked stunning in the January sunshine, taking everyone by surprise and launching the new logo in spectacular fashion. Making such an impact, the Estates Gazette (one of the largest national property magazines) ran a photograph of the new balloon simply captioned “Discreet Publicity!”

The balloon continued to fly on behalf of Lambert Smith Hampton even after my father left the company in 2000. And while I did most of my training in Tutti Frutti (G-BYIY), I also regularly flew G-BWKZ and even undertook my first commercial job with the balloon – tethering for a magazine cover photoshoot.

G-CDYL

In 2006, G-BWKZ was coming to the end of it’s natural life. Looking it’s age and starting to go a little porous the balloon no longer reflected the professional image of Lambert Smith Hampton as it once had, and expecting a natural parting of ways, we were amazed when the marketing department asked to commission a new, third envelope.

Once again we returned to Lindstrand Balloons, and another 3 person balloon was purchased. Sadly, it never saw the work or use that the initial two balloons had. With an annual trip to the Ski Challenge and a few promotional tethers at charity golf days or national sporting events the only commercial jobs it undertook. Instead, being flown mostly by myself, privately around Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

In fact, with the balloon was seeing so little use, in 2011 we actually came to an agreement to purchased the balloon from Lambert Smith Hampton, and removed their branding from it. The plan, to once again offer public rides, as we had previously done in Rainbow Blue (G-CCXD). Sadly though, anorexia got in the way, and the idea never got off the ground, so in 2014, with the balloon hardly flying, we made a decision to let it go, selling the envelope to John Morge.

Without Lambert Smith Hampton, my family wouldn’t be involved in ballooning in the way we are, and without their continued support, we certainly wouldn’t have the stories, tales or memories we have. While the sponsorship may be over, it was a privilege to be able to say that we ran a balloon for a company for 23 years.

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