Aviation society lands hot air balloon

Volunteers at an aviation museum in Lisburn were celebrating recently after being given a hot air balloon, complete with Wicker basket.

The 100ft balloon was presented to Ulster Aviation Society by local businessman Robin Mercer, who was inspired to encourage a passion for hot air balloons in the children of Northern Ireland. Mercer had attended the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta earlier in the year, where he witnessed the excitement of the local children. On his return home, he decided to donate the balloon to the society so that others could experience the sights of a real balloon.

Ulster Aviation Society were thrilled to receive the balloon, but have to work out how to display it in the museum. Ray Burrows, the chairman of the museum, stated that he wanted to show the local children what a balloon flight feels like, as an actual balloon will make explanation much easier. He added that balloons were at the very start of aviation, so it will definitely be used in exhibitions.

The balloon was last inflated at Stormont, but had to be held down by three Land Rovers to prevent it from moving. According to Burrows, the museum has had to be careful financially, so has been concentrating on items to display in the museum and bringing it up to the standards of a professional museum.

Hot air balloon flights are extremely popular with people of all ages. Using a real balloon will help children to understand how they work, both on the ground and when they are airborne.

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