Western Spirit Balloon Tours and Events travel blog

The Twinning

The Twinning with flags

Technical check out

Sled used to move equipment to launch site

The "Band" and Western Spirit with special shapes

Western Spirit in the Snowy Alps

The Russian Airship

Britling Orbiter Replica

Just put that on my bill!

Pack Up

LeDent pack up

A great back up job with the trailer!

Robin and our new friend Jimmy at LeDent

Jimmy, Robin and Jon at Le Dent

Western Spirit, snow and Swiss chalets!


Robin reporting on the Twinning. For the sixth consecutive year, the traditional flight in honour of the twinned towns of Bristol (UK), Sint-Niklass (Belgium), Romorantin (Loire, France) and Château-d'Oex was held.

Linked by a symbolic ribbon bearing the four national flags, the four twinned balloons took off together and kept their formation for as long as possible. The other balloons took off behind them.

The ties of friendship established between the four towns have grown with time, resulting in a marked increase in both tourist and political exchanges that have been beneficial to these different European regions. The synergy developed through international meetings enables the organisers to consolidate quality flights and competitions as regarding commercial and tourist matters.

Steve and Jeff Close reporting

We arrived in Zurich on Thursday. It was a very long flight and neither Jeff nor I could get any sleep on the plane. All our baggage arrived safe but when we loaded it in the van it looked like we were moving here not just visiting. There was not a cloud in the sky and it was a beautiful drive , I think it was more beautiful than I had remembered . Jeff was trying to check things out on the way but kept falling asleep along the way and waking up when his head banged the window. We arrived in Chateau d'Oex and got setup in our rooms and all took a long needed nap before diner. In the morning we picked up the balloon chase vehicle and trailer and drove to Basel the weather was bad and got worse on the way. We picked up the balloon at the Basal Airport after repeated laps around the roundabout , on the way back the weather had gotten much worse. It was raining very hard and the wind was howling and gusting.

On Saturday the first day of the event, it was snowing very hard we got about 5 inches and we could not fly , so we went to Gruyere Castle and took the tour. The Castle was wonderful , Jeff liked the towers and the court yard the best. There were many small windows where to residents would defend the Castle. The view from the Castle is incredible! I liked the trophy room and the dining room that had paintings on the walls of battles long ago.

On Sunday Jeff and I were asked to fly. The weather was perfect and we had a great flight in the valley there were 60 balloons flying and the airship. There were some special shapes flying with us , The Turtle , The big Rooster , The Scotsman , The chicken with egg , The Lion and the rooster head was towing a hang glider that he dropped. There was quite a bit of snow where we landed so Jeff and I walked the balloon a short distance to the road next to a barn , next to the barn was a small restaurant with a large outdoor deck with about 40 people watching the balloons , when the crew got to us we they had picked up a new crewman and he was great help , we spent about 20 minutes moving cars around to get the chase truck to the balloon . We packed up the balloon and stopped in to the Le Dent restaurant for a little soup , cheese and bread , and some wonderful pastries. The people running the show were wonderful and brought us several things to try , they could not have been any nicer . We sat there in the sun enjoying the food and wine watching the balloons , It was a perfect day and this little place was a great way to end the flight . I think this was one of the highlights of the trip , All the people we have met are so friendly and helpful , the hole valley seems to love the balloons and all the small shops have balloon decorations in the front windows and make us all feel very welcome . The great Western Spirit balloon is known and loved by all , everyone knows that balloon , it does not blend in with the rest as just another balloon , We have talked with many people from all over Europe and we cannot believe how Europe stopped to see Obama be sworn in , they tell us shops closed so people could go home to watch and others set there alarms at 3:00 in the morning to get up to watch , It seems every one we talk to has great hope with our new President . We were quite suppressed how interested the rest of the world is about our politics and new president . That’s all for now . Jeff and Steve



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