Flight Reports: G-DIPI ~ Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2012

Every August, Ashton Court in Bristol plays host to the UK’s largest free outdoor event (and the largest annual balloon meet in Europe) – the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. This year, we were asked whether we’d like to bring the Choc Dips special shape balloon to the Fiesta – a balloon not seen at the Fiesta for 22 years having last flown there in 1990! Of course, we said yes!

Mass Launches take place in the morning and evening on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday but to “open” the Fiesta in style they organise a Special Shapes Rodeo on the Thursday evening. Unfortunately, as you’ll have no doubt read in previous blog posts about my time piloting the Churchill Dog special shape – we’ve been unable to free fly from the Shapes Rodeo for a number of years – however, things were a little different in 2012…

Thursday – Special Shapes Rodeo

As described, the Fiesta starts on Thursday afternoon with a “Special Shapes Rodeo” where the special shape (and Fiesta Sponsors balloons) take to the skies to open the Fiesta in style. With glorious weather and in near perfect conditons we had a stunning flight from the Fiesta site at Ashton Court heading South over Long Ashton and Yately to the edge of Bristol – landing on some Common Ground full of families all watching the balloons and eager to help pack them away!

Bristol 2012 - Thursday PM - Track
Bristol 2012 - Thursday PM - 01
Bristol 2012 - Thursday PM - 02
Bristol 2012 - Thursday PM - 03
Bristol 2012 - Thursday PM - 04
Bristol 2012 - Thursday PM - 05

Photographs © Ian J Berry & Keith Harbor

Friday Morning

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is famous for it’s mass launches of up to 100 balloons, and with high pressure dominating the UK weather and the success of the previous night special shape rodeo – we awoke to find near perfect flying conditions once again.

We arrived on site – got everything rigged and after a quick cup of coffee, pilot’s briefing and the obligatory hellos to fellow pilots and friends, made a gorgeous flight from Ashton Court – heading west towards Failand and the Somerset Showground. Due to the Bristol channel this isn’t a direction balloons regularly fly, so even though the flight was cut slightly short, it was a priviledge to fly.

Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - Track
Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - 01
Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - 06
Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - 03
Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - 07
Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - 02

Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - 05

Bristol 2012 - Friday AM - 04

Photographs © Richard Gahan

Friday Evening

Our final flight of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta – with the high pressure that had been bring settled weather and near perfect flying conditions breaking up and the forecast suggesting a band of wind and rain would push in, this seemed like the last opportunity to get a flight in.

Once again the wind took us to the West, amazingly enough straight once again to Somerset Showground, Choc Dips was one of the first balloons into the air, and being to float gently away from a packed Ashton Court while watching 100 other balloons inflating before joining me in the air is a memory I will treasure forever.

Bristol 2012 - Friday PM - Track
Bristol 2012 - Friday PM - 01
Bristol 2012 - Friday PM - 02
Bristol 2012 - Friday PM - 03

Photographs © Keith Harbor & Richard Gahan

General Fiesta Photographs

Photographs © Ian J Berry

Posted on by 5WC in Choc Dips, Hot Air Ballooning First Edition

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