Flying At The Bath & West Show 2011

There are some events that you just want to do, and the Bath & West Show is one of them for me. Not only is it one of the best agricultural shows in the country, but you also have some stunning countryside to fly over including the Glastonbury Festival site – a few weeks before the festival when the “super fence”, stages and festival site is in full bloom – a stones throw away.

Lindstrand Balloons had once again asked if I could fly the Palletways “105” balloon for them, and so having driven the rig all the way down from Lindstrand Balloons factory in Oswestry the day before, I arrived at the hotel and waited to see what the weather had in store.

The wind on the first morning was unfortunately forecast to to increase rapidly after dawn, and so while it was flyable, it was meant we could only go for a short flight, but still a flight is a flight.

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The forecast was right, and not long after landing the wind speed picked up. So it was back for breakfast and what was sold to me as a “quick look around the show” – 6 hours later I finally got back to the hotel for a well earned sleep!

Unfortunately the increased wind speed from the morning was staying all day and put pay to any flying that evening. Normally in this situation we would tether the balloons so that Palletways could get exposure at the event and the clients we are due to fly can get to see the balloons. Annoyingly though, it was even too windy for this and purely on the grounds of safety we had to keep evening packed away.

In one of those strange twist of fate, from having far too much wind 12 hours earlier, the next morning, we didn’t have any! Balloonist’s let small helium balloons off to allow us to see the direction and speed of the wind at altitude by watching what the helium balloon does as it climbs. This morning the balloon be let go went up, and up, and up and could still be seen above the launch site as I was about to take off!

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Having little or no wind, can actually create flights that are even more stunning than normal. Something that goes against logic. You don’t go anywhere and you have a better time. Becuase their is so little wind, it means we can stay very low to the ground and actually spend longer hopping trees and drifting over areas.

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With the high pressure that had brought us the weather required to get two morning flights in moving away – and low pressure that would bring rain by the morning fast approaching from the atlantic – we were once again back in a situation where the clock ticks forward 12 hours, and we’re stood around explaining to clients, once again, that it’s too windy to fly.

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This time, however, it was still ok to tether, and so much to delights of those leaving the show, we were able to inflate both balloons, and give all the clients a chance to experience flight in both the 105 as well as Slick the Dragon.

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Photographs © Martin Capenhurst

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning First Edition

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