Balloon Flight under The Clifton Suspension Bridge
As part of the ‘Brunel 200’ celebrations, marking 200 years since the birth of great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, two commercial balloon pilots planned to fly a hot air balloon under Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge.
The flight was planned and co-ordinated by pilots Clive Bailey, Bailey Balloons and Ian Ashpole, in conjunction with the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and took place in July 2007.
The idea was to fly under the bridge whilst Ian dressed as Brunel was standing on top of the balloon – a stunt that has never been done before.
Special permissions were needed from the Civil Aviation Authority, Bristol City Council and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trustees before the flight could take place.
A special platform was made and attached to the crown of the balloon. Ian was then securely attached to the platform as the balloon was partly inflated. As the balloon was fully inflated Ian rose to the top and was able to stand on top of the balloon.
On the day of the flight the conditions were just right to fly underneath the bridge, helicopter buzzing round with film crew on board to catch this spectacular flight. Take off was to the North of the bridge and after releasing several small helium balloons to check the track the Discovery Balloon, piloted by Clive with Ian stood on top started a slow drift up the gorge. As the balloon approached the bridge the track changed taking them precariously close to the western rocks and trees and Clive had no choice but to climb higher and flew safely over the right hand side of the bridge.
What a fantastic sight – Isambard Kingdom Brunel floating past his Suspension Bridge.