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Oswestry Balloon Carnival 2019 – A Pilot Review

Lorna Hankey

Returning for it’s 3rd year, the second in Oswestry Town centre, the balloon carnival was, once again, welcoming around thirty balloons in support of Nightingale House Hospice. Staffed entirely by volunteers, organised by Lindstrand Technologies and Oswestry Town Council, this is an event I have been looking forward to since flying my solo here last year.

I had held a “meet the cider maker” event in the nearby(ish) town of Telford the previous evening, so was ready to assist in gearing up for the event on Friday. Tanks were filled, trailers were loaded and the site was prepared. This year saw another launch site being added to accommodate the growing number of balloons entered, a great sign that the event is growing and even more balloons for the public to admire!

A perfect slot had materialised on Friday evening, so an unofficial slot had been added to proceedings to take advantage of the great weather. I was flying an LBL 77A that I had, once again, been very generously loaned by Peter Ollivere. My team for this round was made up of second-generation pilot, Fiona Waite and a couple of Lorna Hankey’s friends, Hannah Griffiths and Alexandra Miller, both non-balloonists!

The first slot saw Fiona and I take off from Cae Glas Park and drift over to a farm near Pentrekendrick, where we greeted by a very friendly farmer and four very excited kids! After having help putting the envelope away from the enthusiastic group, we let the kids have a blast on the whisper burners, much to their delight. Thanks were made, cider dutifully handed over to the farmer and we headed back to refuel.

Saturday Morning saw similar conditions so, once again, Fiona and I took to the sky for an hour and five minute flight over the Shropshire countryside. Fiona spotted the perfect field, a grass field with bales, around twenty minutes before our descent. After a soft landing, joining Matt Wiltshire, we were joined by a further five balloons and, a delighted school caretaker, who looked after the field we were in. Cider once again in the landowners hands, we set off back to assist with refuelling.

Saturday evening looked quick on the met, and the briefing echoed this too. I made the decision to stay on the ground, a decision I later regretted, but this allowed me to assist others in getting away and also meant I didn’t have to rush back for the evening’s nightglow. Ultimately, those who flew reported a top speed of only eight knots, but I had to be happy with my decision.

The evening’s nightglow was “The Greatest Showman” themed. However I, and the majority of the teams there, had not seen it! Regardless, we were excited to be entertaining the growing crowds in the park. The balloons stood up in position, we fell silent and dark, awaiting the music and instructor from our, now in full costume, ringmaster Lee Hooper. After a thirty minute show, the crowds erupted in applause and the balloons were packed away.
We headed back to Lindstrand HQ to refuel. We managed to get about twenty teams refuelled, but then we had an issue. The second bulk tank was feeding into the first at an incredibly slow rate, meaning that the tanks were also being filled in an extremely slow pace. We made the decision to ask the last few teams to leave their tanks with us at the factory to get some sleep whilst a solution was sought.

I stayed until Midnight, but the real heroes here are Ed Chapman and Lorna Hankey. They stayed until 5.15am trying to find a solution and refuelling the last tanks. Above and beyond the call of duty and one that should be applauded, even in the frustrating circumstances.

Sunday Morning saw another great slot, with the winds heading towards the border. I flew Hannah and Alexandra, my first time flying a non-pilot…! We had a cracking hour and twenty minute flight across the border to Llangollen, flying over the beautiful Welsh countryside and rolling hills and valleys.

A stand up landing was had in a grass field and we were greeted with the usual OBC landowner hospitality and delight. Hannah and Alexandra did a great job of pulling the balloon down and the cavalry arrived in the cider van. After a quick thank you and the handing over of cider, we loaded up and headed back to see what refuelling could be done.

Upon our arrival to Lindstrand, we saw a retro-fitted valve had appeared on the bottom of bulk tank number two, meaning that we could fill the teams cylinders. It was slow going, as the tanks were being filled by gravity, but by 3pm, we had all the teams refuelled and ready for the evening’s flight.

Sunday evening was a bit tasty for me, demonstrated by Ed taking off in the new Ricoh cube and swiftly leaving sight! This didn’t deter the hardy though, as we helped the remaining teams take off. The winds allowed an amazing box back over the launch site at height and to come back in at low level, demonstrated at just above tree-top height by Andrew Holly in the UK Balloon, flying right over the crowds for the second time in one flight!

As the dust settled on another year at the Oswestry balloon Carnival, the total raised by the weekend’s events had reached £30,000 for Nightingale Hospice. A tremendous achievement and a testament to the volunteers, organisers and teams that make this event a reality. Not only did we have 5 flyable slots and a massively attended nightglow, but we raised a lot of money for a great cause doing it.

I hope to see you all next year.

Written by: Matt Billing (Ascension Cider)

Sagrantino Cup 2019

Lorna Hankey

Team Lindstrand took the road this Summer on a ballooning tour not only attending Metz 2019 but also adventuring down the sunny valleys of Sagrantino, Umbria.

Once again attending the event in Italy with our repair station and balloon team, which including the EMOJI Balloon.

Spectacular 10 days of flying with teams from all over the world!

We had the pleasure of Night Glowing outside Todi cathedral on the last evening of the event, which ended the trip on the high!

Oswestry Balloon Carnival 2019

Lorna Hankey

This August Bank Holiday weekend saw the return of the Oswestry Balloon Carnival 2019 from Oswestry Town centre park, Cae-Glas.

The event once again in aid of Nightingale house Hospice saw an array of 30+ balloons ranging from all shapes and sizes. To carnival entertainment which saw dance displays, fire performances and live music.

The weekend was graced with a sunny heat wave which brought the town to life! Good weather also meant the balloons were able to make all 5 slots over the weekend including tethering in the afternoon both days and the now locally famous Saturday evening Night Glow, which this year was sponsored by Lindstrand and themed as the Greatest Showman!

The event made over £30,000 for the hospice, thanks to all the help from the volunteers and supporters.

Details for Oswestry Balloon Carnival 2020 will be released soon.

For up to date information on the Carnival please visit, Oswestry Balloon Carnival  or follow the event on Facebook at @oswestryballooncarnival

Checkout our video: Ballooning

Telford Balloon Festival

Lorna Hankey

The second Telford Balloon Festival took place on 11-12 May 2019 and Lindstrand Technologies were once again tasked with running the ballooning side of things.

After the tremendous success of the first event in 2018, expectations were high and, despite the usual mixed bag of English weather, the people of Telford were greeted to a sight of more hot air balloons flying over their town than at any time previously.

Due to strong winds, initial plans for a Friday evening flight were scuppered so the event began in earnest on Saturday morning. A handful of balloonists took to the sky in challenging conditions before the afternoon activities began at 12pm. On Saturday afternoon, the public were treated to a fun fair, food and drinks stalls and day 1 of the World’s Strongest Man competition. The weather conditions remained challenging throughout the day with former ballooning World Champion David Bareford being the only pilot to take off on Saturday evening, much to the delight of the crowds. Saturday night saw the Telford Night Glow, with a number of balloons lighting up the night sky, their pilots using their burners to illuminate the balloons in time to music. Taking centre stage in the Glow was Lindstrand’s Emoji special shape, looking luminous as it glowed. It was fabulous to see so many people enjoying the Glow and with a dazzling firework display to round it all off, people went home happy.

Sunday morning dawned and, thankfully, brought with it some lighter winds. What followed was a fabulous morning, with more than 30 hot air balloons lifting out of the town park. Amongst those flying was the giant Emoji and the Panasonic Battery. There were initial concerns around the strengths of the winds but these disappeared allowing a mass ascent of balloons on a light north easterly breeze.

From a personal perspective, Sunday morning was a training flight for me and it was wonderful to fly alongside 30 other balloons in a part of the world not overly familiar with ballooning in gorgeous Shropshire countryside. Flying in a balloon gives you such a different perspective on the landscape, and flying over a town or city can provide just as many tranquil photo opportunities as flying over the countryside. In this instance we were able to achieve both, with spectacular views of Telford and the surrounding industrial area, including the giant cooling towers at Ironbridge Power Station, when we took off. We then tracked slowly south, following the River Severn, landing in a nice big grassy field near Sutton Maddock.

The remainder of Sunday saw clear blue skies and light winds, so the crowds flocked to the QEII arena, where tethered balloons were on display, including Lindstrand’s Wes the Wolf, and food and drinks stalls, a fun fair and the second day of the World’s Strongest Man competition kept people entertained.

In the evening, a handful of balloons took to the skies to huge cheers from the crowd.

The entire event was free for the people of Telford and injected a tremendous boost to the local area, with families flocking to the town park in their thousands for 2 full days of food, drink, fun and hot air balloons.

Lindstrand Technologies organised a wonderful display of hot air balloons across the weekend and now turn their attention to balloons meets in Metz, France and Todi, Italy before the Oswestry Balloon Carnival returns in August.

Checkout our video:  Telford Balloon Fiesta

Writer: Tom Orpin

Images by Marisa D’Alessandro

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