Flight Report: G-ODAD ~ Keeping It In The Family

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

One of the most commonly asked questions you get as a balloon pilot is simply “How did you get into ballooning?”. I have an equally simple answer – my father, James, is also a pilot! I grew up going ballooning with my dad. Becoming more and more passionate and, to some extent, obsessed with each passing flight.

My father now flies for fun rather than commercially enjoying what he describes as his “ballooning retirement” flying family and friends, while also helping people learn to fly in his role as a BBAC appointed Instructor.
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Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ A Few Days Hopping Clouds

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

We’ve reached that time of year when the weather starts to take a turn for the worse and people begin to reach for the bobble hats and woolly jumpers. Hot air ballooning is a year-round activity but being weather dependent, the chances to fly become fewer and fewer as winter takes hold and our weather becomes wetter and more unpredictable.

This means that when flyable weather does appear, you grab it with both hands. Last week was a perfect example of this, with a number of flyable slots appearing during the week; the chance to get in the sky was too much to turn down. Read more

Taking A Dog For A Walk In Bristol

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

Each year in August, Bristol plays host to the UK’s largest hot air balloon meet. With over 100 balloons and 500,000 spectators, the largest free outdoor event in the UK, from a ballooning point of view it’s simply 4 long days entertaining clients and the public alike over the skies of Bristol.

For the past 3 years I’ve been attending Bristol, as the pilot of the Churchill Dog special shape hot air balloon on behalf of Airship & Balloon Company who operate him commercially for Churchill Insurance. While he is currently only tethering (where he is tied to vehicles and doesn’t actually take off) to gain as much media and brand exposure as possible, he is still as spectacular as every, and as hard to pack away!

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The Streatley Nightglow Is A Roaring Success

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

Every August balloonists from all over the Thames Valley descend on Streatley Recreation Ground to inflate their balloons at dusk when they glow like giant lightbulbs for the enjoyment of the local villagers.

Steatley Glow 2011

The nightglow was orginally started as a way for the local balloonist to say thank you to the village for allowing us to fly from the Recreation Ground but, over the last few years, has grown in size, to a point where it is a real focal event for the village with hundreds of people turning out and a BBQ that always runs of out food. Read more

Lucozade Says YES To Crystal Palace

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

In the same way that there are many different types and sizes of car, there are as many diferent types and sizes of hot air balloons. For me, one of my absolutely favourites, are the small one man balloons known as cloudhoppers. Where the traditional wicker basket is replaced with a simple seat for the pilot.

Lucozade are currently using a cloudhopper to advertise their YES campaign as they feel the small, sleek image better fits their active brand, and I spent two days tethering the balloon at the National Sports Center, Crystal Palace for the Aviva London Athletics Grand Prix.

Lucozade Crystal Palace 01

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00Dragon At Pinewood Studios

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

Arguably one of the best jobs I’ve ever done at probably the most famous location I’ve tethered a balloon. My month of working exclusively on the Palletways balloons for Lindstrand Balloons comes to an end with an evening of tethering at Pinewood Studios.

Palletways were holding a James Bond themed evening at Pinewood and so to start the evening off we tethered the Palletways 105 on the main lawn infront of the house. The evening was to open with a live action sequence to allow James Bond to make his entrance into the event, and what better way to do it then abseiling from the balloon!

Palletways At Pinewood 2011 01

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Hold The Back Page!!

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

I’m used to appearing in the media thanks to flying sponsored balloons for Lindstrand Balloons and Airship & Balloon Company, where getting clients balloons into the press is part of the job. After all, the balloon is an advertising medium; but I got a pleasant surprise when the June issue of my local parish magazine arrived through the letterbox.

I had borrowed a balloon from Lindstrand Balloons to gain some experience in flying larger passenger carrying balloon with a view to undertaking some more work for them and had no idea I had been snapped taking off from my local launch site as I drifted beautifully over the River Thames and Goring Lock. Read more

Palletways Goes To Scotland & It Doesn’t Rain!

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

One of the things I love the most about flying hot air balloons for companies is the wide variety of jobs that I get sent to do. Scotland, showed this better than any other job I’ve done this year. The plan was simple, spend 4 days in Scotland split 50/50 between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On paper that doesn’t sound that interesting. Just a good effiecent use of the time the balloons are in Scotland to attend two heavily populated areas. That’s where things get interesting.

Days 1 & 2 – Glasgow

So after a very long drive arrive at a school on the edge of Glasgow to be part of their Science week. The school had written to Lindstrand Balloons asking if it was possible to have some information about hot air balloons for their science fayre. They sent 2 hot air balloons instead!

Palletways Scotland Tour 2011 01

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Flying At The Bath & West Show 2011

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

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. Read more

Tethering Palletways In Germany

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

One of the big advantages of a hot air balloon that attracts companies to use them is the fact they pack away into a trailer and therefore, can be easily transported from site to site as required, whether in the UK, Europe or anywhere else in the world.

So when Lindstrand Balloons rang and asked if I would like to go ballooning in Germany with Palletways, it wasn’t a question that needed much thinking. Both Palletways balloons would be attending Palletways new depot in Homberg in Germany for an open day they were holding. Read more