Not many people can claim to be excited for January, with the hangover of Christmas and the seemingly never ending cold, gloomy British days, but, Jo & Clive Bailey are excited for January to finally be here! The reason? They are taking the world’s first passenger certified solar powered hot air balloon to Switzerland and flying it at the 38th International Balloon Festival in Chateau d’Oex!
The Solar Balloon is a hybrid, meaning that it is powered by the sun as well as gas burners. Funded by Bristol 2015 to mark the city’s status as the European Green Capital, the balloon was manufactured by Cameron Balloons in Bristol and took its maiden flight at the 2015 Bristol International Fiesta piloted by Bailey Balloons Pilot Pete Dalby, who will be joining Jo & Clive in Switzerland.
The balloon works by soaking up the sun’s rays on the side with the black material, heating the air inside the envelope to make it rise. The silver material keeps the heat inside the envelope. It does have a traditional burner as backup. Pete only had to use the burner a handful of times during the first flight – the first time being when Stuart the Minion got in the way of the sun and the balloon started to descend!
Jo & Clive are regular participants of the Chateau d’Oex Festival and have taken many flights across the awe inspiring Alps. The 2016 Festival runs from 23rd – 31st January. Mass ascents with over 100 balloons taking part is certainly a sight to see. Skiers will enjoy bright blue skies filled with colourful balloons drifting over snowcapped peaks and there will also be night glows and air shows.