After a windy 2019 and 2 missed years due to the pandemic, this was the first full schedule of events at the world famous Bristol International Balloon Fiesta for our very own hot air balloon, G-Jima. Despite the scorching heat, long queues and unfavourable wind direction, we were absolutely blown away with the amount of people who attended!
This year, Britain saw record temperatures as we endured yet another heat wave that tied in perfectly with the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. Whilst it made a nice change for the event not to be overshadowed by the usual heavy rainfall or unpredictable winds, it did mean that the evening accents were not possible in such thermic conditions as this creates columns of rising warm air which can displace the air above and cause up and down drafts (similar to turbulence on a plane) which impacts the pilot's level of control. But, the programme of flying still went full steam ahead each morning with superb mass ascents across Bristol as well as the evening nightglows! All in all, G-Jima flew 3 times, tethered in the viewing area to delight the crowds twice and also glowed to entertain the public on the Saturday evening prime time slot.
The flying itself was actually quite different to previous Fiesta occasions. Unusual easterly winds took the balloons (around 80 or so squashed into the ‘fiesta bowl’ arena in from Ashton Court on each flight) flying towards the Nailsea and Failand areas of North Somerset. This was even more challenging due to the active airport being to the south and the Severn Estuary and Avonmouth not being too far away, but it was deemed safe to fly as winds were slack and we drifted slowly over the countryside each time. On each flight we received a warm welcome from the landowner, be it the local farmers who had recently cut their crops or in the case of the Sunday morning flight, the Estates manager in charge of the playing fields belonging to Nailsea School and a gift of whisky or gin was provided after each flight as a thank you to the landowners.
Our incredible pilot Rob Clements said: “A particular highlight for me on the Sunday morning flight was the number of families and dog walkers who saw the balloon land, came over and said hello and then many kids jumping in/out the balloon basket for the first time and asking to see how a balloon actually works. Simply fantastic! Although I was within G-Jima's balloon basket assisting my crew chief Dean Brown who was operating the burner in time to the music during the night glow, it was still possible to see the sheer delight on faces of the public who had turned up to this free event that so many people enjoy and come to each and every year. Roll on Bristol Fiesta 2023, personally I can’t wait.”
The Saturday nightglow was attended by tens of thousands of people, many locals but also many coming from much further afield. They all enjoyed the spectacle of about 20 balloons lit up to tracks including ‘You’ve got the love’ - Florence and the machine, ‘The Wellerman Comes’ - Sea Shantie and of course Sam Ryder with his Euro special ‘Spaceman’.
B&A Group are proud to have been a huge presence in Bristol over the past 30 years and feel incredibly honoured to have been a part of this iconic Bristol event!
We'd like to say a huge thank you to all of the crew involved, you each worked endlessly over the event to make sure everything ran smoothly despite the heat and long days. We really couldn't have done it without you and it was so rewarding to see just how many people were there to enjoy seeing the balloons!