Virgin Balloon Flights makes history at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Last weekend saw two Virgin Balloon Flights hot air balloons launch from Bristol’s Ashton Court for the first time in history.

Taking part in in the 38th annual Bristol Balloon Fiesta, Virgin Balloon Flights’ pilots Mark Simmons and Mark Shemilt each launched their big red balloons on Saturday and Sunday.

Mark Simmons (aka Nobby) flies from Bristol and Bath throughout the flying season, which runs from March – October. Mark Shemilt (aka Shem), is based in Oxfordshire, so flying from the Fiesta, across beautiful Bristol and the rolling Somerset countryside was a new experience for him. 

Telling us about the event, Shem said: “It’s been a great experience flying alongside hundreds of balloons and seeing the glorious south west countryside.

“The brilliant thing about the Fiesta and ballooning meets like this is that you can catch up with fellow pilots and crew members. We’re one big family here at Virgin Balloon Flights and often talk over the phone, but it’s not often we get to actually meet up and fly together, so it’s been great.”

The Virgin balloons are the biggest in the UK ballooning industry, making them very easy to spot in the Fiesta’s famous mass ascents. 

Along with our 16 passenger balloons there were also many special shapes at the Fiesta grounds, including Simbaloo, the Longleat Safari ‘flying lion’.

Despite not being quite as lucky with the weather as last year, where seven out of seven mass ascents went ahead. The three ascents took place on the festival’s busiest days and created some incredible scenes across Bristol.

Make sure you keep an eye on the Virgin Balloon Flights Bristol Balloon Fiesta page to find out how you can float in style at next year’s event.

See you in the skies!  


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