Mass balloon launch across North Somerset

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport

Balloons launching from Bristol Airport as part of the Exclusive Cup competition. - Credit: Michael D Buckle/Exclusive Ballooning

More than 30 balloons were launched from Bristol Airport today in a historic, record-breaking, mass ballooning competition.

The mass balloon event, run by Exclusive Ballooning, saw hot air balloons take off from Bristol Airport runway as they competed in a hare and hounds race - with competitors vying to be the first balloon to land closest to the lead balloon. 

Michael D Buckle/Exclusive Ballooning

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport. - Credit: Michael D Buckle/Exclusive Ballooning

Don Davies, leader of North Somerset Council, said: “What an incredible site to launch from as North Somerset hosts this year’s Exclusive Cup. It’s a joy to see so many balloons of different shapes and sizes across North Somerset skies.”

More: North Somerset to host air balloon race.

Locations in North Somerset are hosting the UK's largest hot air balloon race, although the race's dates and launch locations are being kept under wraps due to Covid guidelines.

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport.

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport. - Credit: Michael D Buckle/Exclusive Ballooning

Andrew Holly, operations director of Exclusive Ballooning said: “What a fabulous morning for breaking a record. I’ve always wanted to fly the Exclusive Cup competition from Bristol International Airport.

"We saw a unique opportunity for a mass ascent from the airfield and, with the full support of North Somerset Council, we took off this morning from the end of runway 27. The whole experience was amazing, surreal and one of the most memorable flights we’ve done.

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport.

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport. - Credit: Michael D Buckle/Exclusive Ballooning

"We’re delighted we’ve been able to break the record for the largest mass ascent from an international airport runway and we cannot thank the teams at the council and Bristol International Airport enough for their help and support.”

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Dave Lees, chief executive of Bristol Airport said: “It has been an exciting challenge, to plan and arrange an event of this scale whilst keeping the event confidential to remain within the Covid restrictions.  

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport.

Balloon launch at Bristol Airport. - Credit: Michael D Buckle/Exclusive Ballooning

"The region has a long and strong relationship with the hot air ballooning community, from award-winning events to hot air balloon design and manufacture and we were delighted to play our part in today’s mass ascent.” 

The launch sites had to be kept under wraps, even from the pilots, to remain within the Covid guidelines and ensure the events can safely proceed. 

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