Making Red Arrows from balloons

Published on: 05 May 2014

wbs write up janine christen

In March Downend Voice reported how Downend Balloons owner Janine Chrispin, 41, was heading out to the USA to take part in the World Balloon Convention. Now Janine shares her exploits with us and shows just what can be achieved with 25,000 balloons and just 27 hours!


THE World Balloon Convention is a place where balloon artists from across the world get together to attend classes, seminars and enter competitions on a worldwide scale. This was my first time attending a convention on this scale and I was really excited!

There were just over 900 people who attended from 53 countries around the world, who like me, had balloons on their mind for a whole week!

My trip started on the Monday when I flew to Denver, Colorado. I, along with two fellow Team GB members arrived at the hotel at 6pm (3am UK time!).

We met with the rest of the team that had arrived on Tuesday at 8.30am and went to the competition hall. The hall was all set up and there were eight teams participating in the ‘large sculpture competition’ including teams from the USA, Italy, Russia, Taiwan, Brazil, Japan and Venezuela.

At 9am, we were given the go ahead to start building our sculpture which was a tribute to the Royal Air Force aerobatic team, the Red Arrows.

Our build started with creating the sky at the back of the sculpture, while fellow Team GB member and sculpture designer Mike started building the first plane.

We then needed to wrap the plane in a balloon the same colour as the balloons we were using in our design. This is very important as you will lose marks if the judges can see aluminium framing in the design (so if it is wrapped in the same colour, it is disguised!).

Mike carried on building the remaining two while a team of us continued to wrap them.

As this was progressing so was the building of the wall. We then had to make the three Red Arrows. At the point we started this, Sara, who created the design with husband Mike, injured her hand which resulted in her going to A&E and ending up with a $600 wrist support! We all continued through the night. At about 3am, we were all due to go and have a few hours sleep, but we all decided to work through as by then we were past the point where we needed sleep!

Whilst Mike, Beth (who stepped in to help when Sara injured her hand) and I carried on with the Red Arrows, the other made a start on the clouds and the smoke trails.

We all pushed forward and listened to the other teams cheering as they finished (this was from about 11am onwards). We finally finished at 11.40am on the Wednesday morning - with 20 minutes to spare.

As soon as we finished, the emotions started and there was a few tears - mainly out of relief that we had actually finished, but also that the design had looked just how

Mike and Sara had envisioned it.

The sculpture won a silver award – well done Team GB!

I had a great experience and look forward to doing it all again in New Orleans in 2016.

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