Final tests for tourist balloon


Devon’s newest tourist attraction has been undergoing final tests before it is opened to the public.

The 25m-high (82ft) balloon is designed to fly 122m (400ft) above the ground, carrying 30 tourists at a time.

It is tethered at Torre Abbey Gardens in Torquay but opponents want it moved, claiming it is too near the road.

The giant balloon is the third of its kind in the UK – Bournemouth and Leeds Castle in Kent already have similar attractions.

‘Different angle’

For £14 tourists will soon be able to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Torbay area.

Councillor Derek Mills from Torbay Council said: “You can see Torbay from a completely different angle, all the streets, the hotels, the landmarks. I think this will be a real plus for the bay.”

Critics of the venture claim the balloon’s position a short distance from a pedestrian crossing will distract traffic and pedestrians. There are plans to mount a court challenge to get it moved.

Tom Spalding from Torbay HiFlyer Balloon defended the balloon’s safety.

“The system is a fully functioning aircraft,” he said.

“We’ve been checked by the Civil Aviation Authority, we have our certificate of airworthiness, which we’re very happy about.”

The attraction is expected to open to the public at the end of the week, weather permitting.