Bristol balloonist takes off in international competition
Bristol balloonist Clive Bailey has taken off in the America's Challenge Gas Balloon Race.
The veteran balloonist from Ham Green is representing Great Britain in the competition to fly the furthest from the take off point in Albuquerque.
The five balloons took off one at a time, starting at 1am this morning UK time, with the British national anthem as Mr Bailey, 54, and team-mate Jon Mason lifted off in their balloon Lady Britannia at 1.31am.
Take-off had been delayed by 24 hours due to strong winds.
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Cheering crowds watched as the balloons took off and there was a fireworks display after they had taken to the skies.
Clive Bailey said: "I was physically shaking with emotion and nerves as we were moved to the launch podium and the National anthem started playing, thousands of people cheering and all I could think of was the 10,000 foot mountains a few miles ahead and had we calculated the ballast correctly to clear them.
"As Albuquerque disappeared into the darkness, the silence seems eerie, with distant lights far below us and our magic carpet whisking us swiftly through the skies. The night time temperature has really dipped to -11."
Lady Britannia headed eastwards after taking off and the pair came close to mountains. But after quickly climbing in height they managed to avoid them.
Mr Mason won the competition last year flying with David Hempleman-Adams after they flew 973 miles in 70 and a half hours.
The GB team is currently in third position having flown more than 170 miles.