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First morning mass ascent takes flight in Balloon Fiesta

116 balloons flew this morning Photo: ITV News

Hundreds of people have been at Ashton Court for the first morning mass ascent of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Around half a million people are expected to have attended the event over the last 4 days - even thought flights have been hampered by the weather.

"We didn't fly Thursday evening it was windy, Friday morning, evening windy, yesterday morning windy, but we got a whole lot of balloons away last night. Two fabulous night glows. We're going to fly this morning, we'll fly tonight. And it's been dry. And it's been a fabulous fiesta so far."

– Clive Bailey, Flight Director
Huge crowds watched the balloons Credit: ITV News

Organisers say this morning's crowds was one the largest they've seen for a Sunday morning in 3 years. This morning's ascent was the the largest of the festival so far. 71 balloons flew last night, 116 this morning. This morning there was very little wind. Sadly for some it meant the balloons didn't fly over the city. Instead they headed slowly towards the airport, who were working closely with the festival organisers.

The lack of wind meant the balloons didn't rush off Credit: ITV News

The lack of wind meant the balloons could bob up and down at Ashton Court instead of shooting off which helped some of the children who were trying to tick off the ones they'd spotted.

Children were ticking off the balloons that they'd seen Credit: ITV News

"I think it is really nice for people to be able to see the balloons take off and not just whizz across the city because then they are sort of gone. If they can see them and enjoy them and talk to people as they're flying and that's part of the fun of it. You can wave and chat as you go past."

– Hannah Cameron, Cameron Balloons

Newly qualified pilot Mandy Thompson from Patchway flew the SM Gauge balloon - a four-year-old Cameron Z90 - alongside 115 other balloons.

"I'm glad I was one of the first out and got out of the pack and then was able to see them all coming out behind us.

I started coming to the fiesta when I was five years old. We used to come and watch the night glows but as the years have gone on being a part of it and experiencing it - it is fantastic.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'm so lucky to have it." with it, it is fine. The trick is to look out and not look down. I also know that I'm in control of coming down to the height that I want."

– Mandy Thompson, pilot

And at the moment organisers say the balloons will fly again this evening. This is the schedule for what is due to happen for the rest of the day:

  • 12:00 – 17:30 ARENA ENTERTAINMENT
  • 18:00 MASS HOT AIR BALLOON LIFT
  • 20:30 FIESTA CLOSES

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