On Tuesday 20 June 2017 an historic Beech 18 aircraft departed from the Bristol and Wessex Aeroplane Club at Bristol Airport on the first stage of a round-the-world flight.
Well-known local hot air balloonist and director of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Phil Dunnington, and his wife Allie will fulfil a 20 year-old dream by flying an historic aeroplane around the world, taking one of the world’s lightest hot air balloons with them.
At each stop-over for the aircraft, Phil and Allie will fly the balloon, making for a unique and exciting aviation adventure. Planning and preparation started in 2014, when a suitable aircraft, which has since become affectionately known as Betty the Beech and painted in Bristol Blue colour, was purchased. The couple have also been hard at work designing the hot air balloon with locally based Cameron Balloons.
The first part of the adventure is a series of hops from the UK to Cuba via the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Canada, and the United States. Wherever Betty lands, the balloon will take to the skies.
This will involve flying an old aeroplane through some of the world’s most challenging regions and then, between flights, getting airborne in their two-person balloon. Many destinations on Betty’s travels may never have seen a balloon before.
Throughout 2017, Bristol Airport will be celebrating 60 years at its current site. As well as looking back on a rich aviation history, work will begin on an updated Master Plan which will consider how best to meet growing demand for air travel to and from the South West and South Wales over the next two decades. The views of customers, employees, neighbours and others stakeholders will be vital in helping to shape the Airport’s vision for the future.