Tuesday 20 August 2019

Hot air Darth Vader takes to the skies as part of Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Dozens of hot air balloons have lifted off in the first ever Thursday mass ascent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

(Ben Birchall/PA)
(Ben Birchall/PA)

By Emily Chudy, PA

An enormous Darth Vader mask took to the skies among dozens of colourful hot air balloons in the first ever Thursday mass ascent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

The Star Wars-themed balloon took part in the fiesta following a crowdfunding campaign that saw visitors pledge more than £5,000 for its appearance.

The balloon was built in Bristol by Cameron Balloons in 2007 – but had never flown in the city, despite appearing in Australia, the United States, China and Malaysia.

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(Ben Birchall/PA Images)

Organisers on crowdfunding website FundSurfer said: “The Darth Vader special-shape hot air balloon was built in Bristol by Cameron Balloons but has never flown in this fine city.

“The incredible feat of engineering has toured the world and been photographed over Australia, United States, China and Malaysia (to name just a few), but has never flown in the skies over Brunel’s Suspension Bridge, the coloured houses of Totterdown and the city that Vader himself, David Prowse, called home.

“This year, as the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta celebrates the icons of Bristol, we will bring the balloon home so it can rightfully join this year’s festivities.”

Europe’s largest ballooning event features four days of displays, with more than 130 colourful hot air balloons attending from across the world.

It is expected that thousands of visitors will descend on Bristol over the weekend as it hosts the 41st annual fiesta.

The festival’s mass ascents usually begin from Friday morning, but an extra flight was scheduled on Thursday this year due to forecasts of rain and high winds.

PA Media

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