GALLERY: Balloon fiesta floats on high 

PERFECT conditions greeted pilots and passengers on what organisers described as the Hunter Valley’s biggest combined flight of hot-air balloons.

 Twenty balloons took part on Sunday and 17 craft lifted off  yesterday as part of the Balloon Aloft Hunter Valley Fiesta.

The two flights carried a total of 130 passengers.

Balloon Aloft spokeswoman Michelle Wills said it was likely to be the biggest display of the art of balloon flying in the Hunter Valley.

 ‘‘The sky was clear and blue,’’ Balloon Aloft spokeswoman Michelle Wills said.

 The balloons disembarked from Cessnock Airport at 6am and landed near Bimbadgen Estate 55 minutes later.

Craft reached heights of 2000 metres.

There was a competition to see which pilot could drop a marker closest to the touchdown target. The winner was Paul Gibbs who came within 40 centimetres.

Balloon Aloft celebrated its 30th anniversary of flying in the Hunter vineyards last year.

Mrs Wills said this long weekend made up for last year’s disappointment, although strong winds cancelled flights on Saturday.

  After touch down, passengers were treated to breakfast at Petersen House, a Hunter Valley producer of sparkling wine. 

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