While heading to work this morning, walking off the escalators out of the subway at Melbourne Central, I stumbled on Pete Wright, Paul Gibbs and the Picture This gang with an entire hot air balloon inflated inside the atrium area of the shopping center. Not just any balloon either, this was the new Carlton & United Breweries special shape balloon that looks like a giant glass of beer. Today was the launch of the new campaign and the balloon. It had been test flown out in the country but hadn’t been seen in a city until today.
I was focusing on the basket, burners and the team and didn’t even look up until Pete asked me what I thought of the new shape. Oh wow. Very spectacular and it’ll look great from a distance (not to say it doesn’t look good up close either, just that from a distance there’ll be no doubting what this one is).
The crew had a very tricky time inflating the balloon inside the atrium – there was only just enough space for it to stand up and required guys on the upstairs balconies with ropes to guide it. Quite the feat and the guys were justifiably proud of what they’d achieved.
It was going to be a long day for the team as they had to inflate it before the center opened and keep it up all day until close when they could take it down. Naturally, they were working in shifts to ensure no one got too worn out.
When I was crewing with Balloon Sunrise, I was working on the Formula 1 Racer Balloon (pdf) which took 5 of us over an hour to pull down, flatten out, pack up and put in the back of the trailer. It was also a real pig to fly with the wheels filling with cold air and slowing it down when changing altitude. This “beer glass” shape will be easy to pack up (a long tube with a vent at the top) and fly, so the guys at Picture This will have a blast touring it and flying it around for Carlton & United.
After hanging around for a chat, I headed into the office. Wish I’d had my camera with me.
Updated – 2008-09-04: One of the local papers had an article & photo of the balloon on its first flight over Melbourne.