Balloons to soar into space from Malmesbury

An image taken from the sort of weather balloon which will be launched in Malmesbury in May

An image taken from the sort of weather balloon which will be launched in Malmesbury in May

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Balloons destined for space will be launched in Malmesbury at an event in May.

Schoolchildren, Scout groups and those with an interest in weather ballooning are encouraged to take part in what is the second annual balloon fiesta.

Chris Hillcox, 40, brought the mass weather balloon fiesta to the town after visiting last August to film with inventor Tom Lawton, as they attempted to launch a weather balloon from the River Avon to take pictures from the stratosphere.

Mr Hillcox said: “Malmesbury is a great place to do it. If the weather is anything like last year then it will be an awesome day.

“I’m quite nervous though as well because you never know what will happen.

“There is a lot of preparation, including getting CAA permission.

"When you let go of the balloon you just never know how it will go; there’s a lot of anticipation around it.”

The two-metre diameter latex balloons are filled with helium and tethered with nylon cord as they float up into ‘near-space’ 35km above the Earth, where they are used to take pictures of the landscape.

They eventually burst and come down in a parachute, then are tracked using GPS to be collected when they land.

Mr Hillcox, who is from Birmingham, said: “We use online forecast software to work out where the balloon will go and avoid landings in cities and close to airfields.

“I will be hoping that people who have never done it will have a go and I will be happy to help people understand what is involved.”

This year’s event will be held at the Red Bull Inn, Bristol Street, between May 24 and June 1, depending on the weather.

Anyone interested in taking part can call 07783 903096, email chrishillcox1@hotmail.com or visit http://balloonnews.wordpress.com/balloon-fiesta-2014/ 

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