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Royal touch for balloon festival

Wairarapa Balloon Festival 2018 at Henley Lake. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Annual Wairarapa Balloon Festival marks 20 years

A balloon coming to the Wairarapa Balloon Festival at Easter is inspired by the hats worn by the Queen’s Guards outside Buckingham Palace.

Standing at a little over 29 metres, “Busby The Queen’s Guard” was manufactured in 2017 by Cameron Balloons in Bristol, England, festival organiser Robyn Cherry-Campbell said.

Busby, a UK visitor at this year’s balloon festival. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Busby will be the special shape hot air balloon at this year’s festival, which runs from April 18 to 22, and will be flown by UK-based pilot Paul Burrows.

Cherry-Campbell says the festival is thrilled to welcome Busby and Burrows and it will be the first time Busby has been seen in New Zealand.

“New Zealand is becoming a popular stop for experienced pilots on the circuit, and special shapes like Busby always excite the crowd and really add to the magic.”

Busby’s a relative newcomer to the balloon circuit, and his maiden flight was at the Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta in 2017.

Since then he has travelled extensively across America, Europe and Asia.

Burrows has been flying hot air balloons since the age of 17 and was the youngest pilot in Europe when he completed his qualifications.

He has flown some of the best-known shapes on the circuit, including the Kiwi Bird, the Little Girl and Little Boy, Busby the Guard, Buster the Bulldog, and at the time, the world’s largest pair of green underpants, which was part of a marketing campaign for an online bookmakers.

He was also the first British pilot to fly in Vietnam.

This year marks 20 years of the popular annual show in Wairarapa.

Free events include the chance to see the pilots take off for early morning flights throughout the region, the “Burner Parade” through Carterton and Greytown, and a meet the pilots’ session at Te Kairanga Vineyard after the Meander over Martinborough flight.

The Trust House Night Glow, where tethered balloons will light up to music, is a ticketed event at Solway Showgrounds on April 20.


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