Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Takes Off
Hot air balloons filled the sky above the Bristol Channel as the official launch of the International Balloon Fiesta took place.
The colourful collection of balloons ascended from the runway backlit by the landing lights a beautiful sunrise to officially launch the fiesta, which will take place between August 6th and 9th.
It was the first time in the airport's history that the runway had been used as a launchpad for hot air balloons.
People lucky enough to be up early across the Bristol area this morning watched in awe as the balloons floated from the airport towards the city and landed in the Ashton Court area just after 6am, with one landing on a field next to the Long Ashton bypass. The balloons were launched from the runway at 5am to ensure no disruption to flights was caused.
Event director Susan Tanner said: "We wanted to do something spectacular to honour this year's Fiesta.
"We were delighted to have Bristol International Airport on board to help us create such a magnificent and memorable sight."
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2009, which takes place at the Ashton Court Estate, is expected to bring more than half a million visitors to the city.
The Red Arrows, the world's most famous aerobatic display team, will perform at the event, which will also feature mass launches of more than 100 balloons, two night glows where 30 balloons will light up the night sky in time to music.
The highlight for many will be the putting into the air of the best aerial entertainment money can buy, i.e. fireworks, not balloons. The evening will end with a superb firework display which will erupt in the sky with something altogether different from the peaceful and graceful, almost serene calm that comes from ballooning. Should be quite a contrast and quite a night to remember.