World’s biggest flying bike takes off

This massive hot air balloon has just been given its first test flight as it gets ready to act as a promotional tool for George White Superbikes.

The balloon is scheduled to appear at each of the remaining British Superbike series and will also be seen at the George White Superbikes open day at the Swindon branch on April 24 and 25.

Before that the balloon will be seen at the Thruxton round of the BSB series this weekend on April 17 and 18.

The hot air balloon, built by Chester-based specialists Lindstrand Balloons, will fly, weather permitting, at all rounds of the British Superbike Championship and other selected events in the UK and Europe.

The 37m high x 47m wide balloon was one of the most complex ever made by Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons, founded by Per Lindstrand over 25 years ago.

It is a bike and rider scaled up 23 times and takes about twice as long to prepare and inflate than a conventional balloon.

Pilot Chris Sanger-Davies says, "As one of the biggest shapes in the world you have to be aware of the size and scale of what is above you - but essentially it is still a hot air balloon and has the same characteristics as standard round balloons of similar lifting capacity, although it is much more weather susceptible."

The balloon will also be in action for day one (Saturday) of the George White Open Weekend held at its Swindon HQ over the weekend of April 24 and 25.

One lucky visitor to the showroom will win a ride in the balloon over the store that will be visited by most of the BSB front runners over the course of the weekend.

On Sunday 25th April it will fly over the start to the annual London marathon - putting motorcycling in front of 46,000 runners and with BBC images fed to over 150 countries world-wide.

Some BSB machine v George White Balloon facts:
Top Speed:
British Superbike 185 MPH
George White Balloon 12 MPH

Fuelled up weight:
British Superbike 206 KG
George White balloon Maximum take off weight 1700kg Fabric weight 562kg

British Superbike 1
George White Balloon 4 + 1 pilot

British Superbike 1000cc
George White Balloon 23,000cc Balloon burner 50,000 BTU. MK2 Jet stream double

Fuel tank:
British Superbike 20litre capacity
George White balloon 406 litre capacity
240 litres of propane

British Superbike average rider: M
George White balloon 23XL

Boot size:
British Superbike average rider: 11.5
George White ballon 212
Average rider height:
British Superbike 5’ 11
George White balloon 138’

Back wheel diameter:
British Superbike 65cm
George White balloon 15.5 meters

The balloon was constructed from 5500 individual fabric panels, over a period of three months using eight specialist seamstresses, two design engineers, and over 50 miles of thread.

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Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter