A very mild, storm battered Britain this winter means there are defiantly no Icicles in site, but as usual the traditional Icicle Balloon meeting was held over the 1st weekend of January.
Balloonists from all over the UK gather in Berkshire for the annual Icicle meeting which hosts a very well attended trade fair and dinner at the Elcot park Hotel and generally serves as a great meeting hub for balloonists to gather have a chat and keep up with the latest innovations on offer over the whole weekend.
Due to the inclement weather the number of attendees was down on previous years but despite that the Ultramagic stand at the fair had a steady stream of visitors looking at the new Tekno ‘Large’ basket which was on display for the first time.
For those that attended the Saturday morning briefing at the new (very smart) launch site in nearby Marlborough were met by strong wind and rain as seems to be the norm this year.
Despite initial forecasts looking poor for the whole weekend, there was a glimmer of hope when a small ridge passed over the country during Saturday night into Sunday morning which allowed the skies to clear and the winds fall light if only for a few hours it was a flying slot!!
Richard Parry (winner of the Queens cup) joined the Ultramagic UK team to fly the new Tekno 70 system, a perfect balloon to fly in such conditions where the ground is so wet a carry out is not an issue.
As forecast Sunday dawned bright and clear but the wind was still a little brisk and already the high level cloud of the next approaching system was evident in the west we wasted no time in getting airborne from Marlborough Common. One of only five balloons to fly!
Initially staying low to try and get the first target there was not enough left in the wind to achieve this so we elected to climb and try to claim the long distance prize.
At 3000 ft. the winds were very strong with the GPS reading 55kph – perfect for winning the distance competition.
There was also some instability especially dropping down to low level but the power plus burner single proved itself yet again in maintaining level flight and arresting fast descents, we were thankful we had that and light weight kit for a small carry out was necessary in the end.
Finding a dryish field near a road was very difficult, and before we reached some very flooded areas approaching oxford we spotted a gently sloping grass field which was our final stopping point north of Farringdon after a 50 minute flight. The field was dry!
Ultramagic UK would like to thank the Dante group for once again organising such a fun event and picking up the distance prize an added bonus!
See you all at Icicle 2015
Photos Courtesy of Mark Neal & Ultramagic UK