August in Bristol can only mean one thing, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Now in its 42nd year, the fiesta was dreamt up by Don Cameron and friends and is now an international event attracting balloonists and spectators from all over the globe. COVID-19 however has scuppered these plans for the last two years, with no opportunity to stage four days of flying, tethering or arena displays the organisers decided that if Bristol can’t come to the fiesta, then the fiesta will go to Bristol. All corners of the city were covered by a series of community launches, from Filton in the north, Hartcliffe and Withywood to the south, Westbury-on-Trym in the west, Hanham and St George in the east and Ashton Court and Queen Square in the Centre, all over the the first two weeks of the month.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest for the fiesta fortnight, with only one flyable slot in the first week. However, the second week proved to be slightly better with flying and tethering taking place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. There were plenty of new envelopes making their fiesta debut and two even making their maiden flights, those being Prestige Grounds Ltd’s Cameron Z-105 and Exclusive Ballooning’s Cameron Z-90, the latter advertising ‘MansionBet’, Bristol City Football Club’s main sponsor. But it wasn’t just about the new visitors as Flying Enterprises Lindstrand LBL-90A balloon ‘Fishtank’ and Cameron Z-105 ‘Hardy’s Wine’ were present as ever. Also making an appearance on the Thursday, tethering in Queen Square, was MJ Ballooning special shape balloon ‘Choc Dips’, which was built in 1988.
A mention must also go to the model balloonists, something we wouldn’t normally cover as they’ve certainly become a crowd favourite outside the Costa Coffee cabin on Queen Square. Two full-size balloons from the region have now had miniature versions created and one model balloon had a design that was so well liked that a local balloon team had a full-size version made by Czech balloon manufacturer Kubitech registered G-CLNX. This balloon flew from Westbury-on-Trym and also tethered in Queen Square over the course of the fortnight.
Over the two weeks there were plenty of special shapes present, with Exclusive Ballooning’s ‘Simbaloo the Lion’ and ‘Adelaide the Koala’ both promoting Longleat Safari Park. Others included privately owned ‘Roger the Panther’ and ‘Dolly the Sheep, Lighter Than Air Ltd’s ‘Buster the Dog’ and Airship and Balloon Company’s ‘Stuart the Minion’.
© South West Aviation Photographers 2021