100% Success – Seventeenth Igualada European Balloon Festival
This year’s Igualada European Balloon Festival, held between the 10th and 14th of July was again something special but this time with the launch and first flight of the Ultramagic Friendship Balloon(see separate news sheet
). A 100% flying record was attained with all 7 slots being flown. However it must be said that no task was set for the Saturday evening flight due to interesting weather conditions! Many old faces attended with also a number of new entries coming from as far away as Brazil. The event was a success due to the combination of the hard work of the organisers combined with generally good weather conditions on most of the flying slots!
The event started on the Wednesday evening with a welcome reception given by the town dignitaries for all of the pilots and crew which was held in the Town Hall in the centre of Igualada. A group photograph was taken on the magnificent stair case on the inside of the town hall which was then published on the front page of the local news paper
The press morning flight opened the flying on Thursday morning in good flying conditions and two competition tasks were set with a Hare and Hounds and Judge Declared Goal. Special press interest was generated by the Friendship Balloon which was the Hare and photographs went immediately global including to the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Guardian! National and local TV coverage was also gained by the event.
|Suzanna Saez – EPA – Los Angeles Times
||Suzanna Saez – EPA – New York Times
Thursday afternoon brought a massive deluge of rain and one would have not expected any evening flying! However the sky cleared, the sun dried up the launch field and conditions were perfect in the evening for a less brisk flight than normal attracting many pilots to take part in a super flight over and around Igualada. All balloons landed safely in good conditions with plenty of time still to refuel and then enjoy the superbly prepared and presented food at the communal supper.
Friday’s morning weather conditions were perfect allowing two tasks and gentle enjoyable flying. Standard quick flying conditions prevailed for the Friday evening flight but with many pilots still taking part in the two tasks set. Once again after the flight some excellent food was enjoyed at the communal supper with plenty of good wine available for those not driving!
|Photo by Chris Freeman
||Photo by Chris Freeman
Saturday morning’s wind conditions were perfect with excellent steerage and two tasks set. Igualada European Balloon Festival conditions continuing at its best!
The traditional Paella meal accompanied by live music was held once again on Saturday afternoon. This was held outside the Ultramagic factory at the airfield in fantastic weather with runway side seats available to watch the local fixed wing and gyrocopter flying!
Photo by Chris Freeman
Later in the afternoon the weather started to change and it looked as if the planned evening entertainment for the large crowd gathering may have been spoiled. However conditions allowed a short flight by just two balloons in front of the huge evening crowd. No tasks were set in the interests of safety. However 2 parachutists were dropped by the Kon-Tiki balloon with these amazing 2 people landing back on the launch field in what were not ideal weather conditions.
The prize giving then took place in front of the huge crowd gathered. The winners of the competition covering the tasks up to and including Saturday evening were as follows.
1. Carles Figueras
2. Carles Lladó
3. Manel Rodriguez
Special prize for Team Work: Sonja and Stefan Trindler from Switzerland
Special prize for pilot travelling the furthest distance to attend the event – Filipe Tostes from Brazil
Just after this a short rain storm occurred and it looked as if the evening night glow might be cancelled. However yet again the weather improved to allow a fantastic night glow and firework display. After this the crowd were entertained with an outdoor concert with live bands. This came to a slightly early close with yet another storm passing through. But the evening was a great success with everything happening as was planned thus aiming towards a 100% success record for the event!
The meeting ended successfully after flying yet again in perfect conditions on the Sunday morning with all of the balloons first flying across the town.
Flying was then followed by a superb brunch where all of the pilots were able to say there farewell to what was yet again a very enjoyable and friendly festival. The organisers are already starting to prepare for next year to make it even better – Certainly and event not to be missed!