History

The meet was first hosted by David Liddiard at his Bradfords Farm, Marsh Benham and then for the next 21 years by his son, James at Warren Farm, Savernake, near Marlborough.

In 2014 however the meet moved to a new flying venue at Marlborough Common, and in 2015 to Folly Dog Leg, Hungerford.

43rd Icicle
3/4 January 2015
  • Rain stopped play on Saturday but nine balloons inflated in the fog at the site at Folly Dog Leg, Hungerford on the Sunday.
  • The Trade Exhibition was held as usual at the Elcot Park Hotel where a packed dinner on the Saturday evening enjoyed hearing about the History of the Gordon Bennett Race from speaker Robin Batchelor.
  • At the Sunday Prize Giving Pete announced that this would be the last Icicle organised by the Dante Balloon Group.
42nd Icicle
4/5 January 2014
  • In spite of a pretty awful weather forecast, the Saturday morning briefing at the Rugby Club was well attended but outside the rain continued – all day.
  • The Exhibition Hall at the Elcot was busy during the day and in the evening, diners were entertained by Colin – Red Hat – Wolstenholme as guest speaker.
  • A surprise overnight frost allowed five balloons to fly from the new site at Marlborough Common along with two others which tethered.
41st Icicle
5/6 January 2013
  • On Saturday 14 out of almost 40 registered balloons flew from the new launch site on Warren Farm.
  • The evening dinner was a sell out with 120 people attending to hear a very humorous chat from Chris Dunkley about some of the daft balloony things he’d got away with over the years!
  • Sunday morning was quite foggy but that didn’t stop at least 12 brave souls tethering their balloons in the field.
40th Icicle
7/8 January 2012
  • Only one brave soul hopped over the hedge on the Saturday – Richard Parry in G-SMIG.
  • Anthony Smith delighted a sellout dinner that evening with tales of his Atlantic crossing by raft!
  • Conditions were perfect on the Sunday morning and 22 balloons got airborne.
  • Of the 40 Icicle’s, 20 were at David Lididiard’s farm at Marsh Benham and an equal 20 at his son James’s farm at Savernake.
39th Icicle
8/9 January 2011
  • In a truly European year we were pleased to welcome Werner Waeschenbach from Germany, the agent for Schroeder Balloons in the Exhibition Hall and a team led by Johannes Kooistra from Netherlands.
  • Saturday was rather wet but fortunately on Sunday the rain stopped and although it was still a bit breezy, six balloons flew and several models tethered.
  • Mike Scholes attracted a crowd at the Elcot inflating his lightweight hopper.
38th Icicle
9/10 January 2010
  • Icicle lived up to its name this year with sub zero temperatures & several inches of snow.
  • However four balloons inflated on the Saturday morning with two hopping across the field. Most people made it to the dinner at the Elcot and around 90 guests heard speaker Robin Batchelor’s ripping yarns about flying in Africa. A competition for the longest icicle on Sunday morning prior to the Prize Giving rounded off the weekend.
37th Icicle
3/4 January 2009
  • A year worthy of the name with hard frosts and blue skies both days.
  • 70 balloons flew on the Saturday – some more than once and 42 on the Sunday.
  • The Saturday evening dinner was a sellout with guest speaker Al Carter giving a ‘tongue in cheek’ look at ATC Heathrow.
36th Icicle
5/6 January 2008
  • A welcome return to the Elcot Park Hotel for the social side of the meet. We were last there in 1984.
  • Robin Batchelor entertained a sell out dinner of 115 people on the Saturday evening.
  • No flying on the Saturday due to rain & high winds but an overnight frost enabled 32 balloons to fly on Sunday morning.
35th Icicle
6/7 January 2007
  • Despite a rainy weekend, five flew out of the field on Saturday and two balloons hopped round the site.
  • At the dinner on the Saturday evening, Mark Pacan did the draw for the ‘2000 Balloons’ painting which was won by Icicle stalwart Vic Trimble – a popular winner.
34th Icicle
7/8 January 2006
  • In spite of cold, windy & snowy conditions, 50 balloons flew on the Saturday morning.
  • Our guest speaker was Alan Noble who was Control Centre Chief overseeing the altitude record by Dr Vijaypat Singhania who achieved a record of 69,852 feet.
33rd Icicle
8/9 January 2005
  • In spite of bad weather forecast, 17 balloons registered in advance.
  • However on Sunday one brave soul – Trevor Read – free flew.
  • Our after dinner speakers were Jim & Mike Howard.
  • We also had a visiting team from Slovenia – Avi & Masa Sorn.
32nd Icicle
3/4 January 2004
  • On Saturday 60 balloons flew in a light southerly wind with the occasional snow shower.
  • Tim Orchard entertained us after the dinner with ‘A day at the office’ – he was a Concorde Captain!
  • On Sunday 44 balloons flew in slightly warmer conditions.
31st Icicle
4/5 January 2003
  • At the 0800 Saturday briefing the wind was blowing and the launch area was muddy. By 0900 it was snowing hard.
  • David Smith did fly three times later in the day, but not from the farm and at one stage achieved 29 knots at 1000ft.
  • Both the dinner and guest speaker Anthony Smith were excellent.
  • The Sunday morning brought a very hard frost and no wind! A total of 39 balloons free flew, with Vic Trimble getting the furthest flight, landing at Trowbridge, a distance of 35.5kms. To add to the morning’s activities a couple of Special Shapes tethered and at least two one man balloons flew.
30th Icicle
5/6 January 2002
  • 40 balloons attended
  • 6 flew – one went 34kms into Oxfordshire to win the distance prize. Sell out dinner with David Hempleman-Adams as guest speaker
29th Icicle
6/7 January 2001
  • 52 attended. 39 flew in 46 flights. 7 flights on Saturday and 39 on Sunday
  • After dinner speaker was Brian Smith who entertained with tales of his involvement in the Breitling Round The World Flight
28th Icicle
8/9 January 2000
  • 93 balloons attended. 81 flew in 94 flights
  • Only 10 flights on Saturday in spite of good weather, 84 on Sunday
  • After dinner on Saturday, Phil Dunnington talked about his flight over the North West Passage
27th Icicle
9/10 January 1999
  • 57 balloons attended. 29 flew in 35 flights. Only 1 flight on Saturday
  • After dinner speaker was Alan Noble on “Round-The-World Flying”
26th Icicle
3/4 January 1998
  • 43 balloons attended. Gales all weekend
  • After dinner slide show on Saturday “BA Round The World” presented by Pete Bish.
  • During the weekend, Steve Fossett flew over England on his Round The World attempt
25th Icicle
4/5 January 1997
  • 80 balloons attended but none flew!
  • Dinner at Hilton on Saturday evening. Tethers on Sunday morning: G-SAMI, G-BICU, G-FLOA, G-TING
24th Icicle
6/7 January 1996
  • Only 2 balloons doing 2 flights… a blow-out!
23rd Icicle
7/8 January 1995
  • 131 balloons flew. First year that the Social Event and Exhibition held at Hilton Swindon
22nd Icicle
8/9 January 1994
  • 115 free flights. Computerised registration introduced
  • Airship crashed into tree in flying field – crew rescued by fire brigade – incident became a “999” feature on TV
21st Icicle
2/3 January 1993
  • 97 balloons flew!
  • The first year at Warren Farm, Savernake Forest
20th Icicle
4/5 January 1992
  • 126 flights made in 104 balloons on Saturday
  • Unstable gusty weather on Sunday
  • Colin Butter has short flight and long drag landing to Newbury Show Ground – possibly the last from Marsh Benham
19th Icicle
5/6 January 1991
  • Gale force winds battered England throughout the weekend
  • Tether display by B&Q G-BMST
18th Icicle
6/7 January 1990
  • Many tethers on a wet msierable Saturday morning, but Chris Dunkley managed a free flight in G-LUGG
  • First balloon airborne on Sunday was G-OSST Concorde, piloted by Tony Brown, Concode Flight Engineer
  • Air-to-ground photograph showing almost 50 balloons published in Monday’s The Times
17th Icicle
7/8 January 1989
  • 143 balloons registered and flew in good weather on Saturday morning
  • Overseas pilots from Australia, USA, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong and Eire
  • Low cloud base on Sunday morning resulted in flying being cancelled at briefing, but 3 balloons flew
  • Ron Griffin makes longest flight at just over 100km to Shoreham in Sussex
16th Icicle
2/3 January 1988
  • Very strong winds prevented any free flying
  • However on Sunday G-AZUV Icarus was brought out of the museum store and briefly inflated
15th Icicle
3/4 January 1987
  • 117 balloons plus the B&Q Airship flew on Saturday making 186 free flights
  • Sunday brought 15 knot wind with rain…
  • Pete Bish retires as principal organiser after 13 years
14th Icicle
4/5 January 1986
  • Temperature of -6C at Saturday briefing and muddy launch site
  • 81 balloons and B&Q Airship made 97 flights before rain at lunch
  • Gusty northerly on Sunday allowed only 5 balloons to get airborne
13th Icicle
5/6 January 1985
  • 68 balloons made 86 free flights during the weekend
  • 3 commercial balloons did short hops on Sunday in a biting wind, low cloud base and snow showers
  • Sir Winston Churchill G-BDNZ slid into trees on south side of the field – nobody hurt
  • Graham Elson made a breif flight in a Green Ice Cloudhopper (minus its registration G-BHOJ)
12th Icicle
7/8 January 1984
  • Gusty surface wind meant only 5 free flights on Saturday and 6 on Sunday
  • Tethered displays by 7 balloons on Staurday and 10 on Sunday, including the overseas registered OY-BOV and N905CB
11th Icicle
8/9 January 1983
  • A frost on Saturday morning helped cover the wet ground
  • A total of 72 balloons flew free
  • Sunday was wet and windy with no flights
  • Favourable coverage by TV and three of the Sunday papers
10th Icicle
1/3 January 1982
  • Meet held over 2½ days allowed 13 balloons to fly free on Friday
  • However winds of 15 knots plus on Saturday and more on Sunday prevented further flights
  • Entrants from 9 overseas countries – the highest ever
9th Icicle
2/4 January 1981
  • No flights on Saturday following met of surface winds 15 gusting 30 knots, with 55 knots at 6000′
  • Sunday briefing was brought forward to 0700 on the promise of early flyable weather
  • David Smith in Smirk was airborned at 0727 followed by 36 other balloons
  • Ron Griffin in Motorway balloon G-BFOZ got as far as Midhurst, Sussex, in 1h35m
8th Icicle
5/6 January 1980
  • 71 balloons made 94 free flights
7th Icicle
6/7 January 1979
  • Blue sky and 3″ of compact snow with a light WSW wind on Saturday
  • 66 balloons made 101 flights on Saturday
  • Warm front brought strong winds and rain on Sunday preventing further flying
6th Icicle
7/8 January 1978
  • Largest hot air balloon meet ever outside the US
  • 85 balloons made 179 flights in almost perfect weather
  • First Special Shape at Icicle – Champion Spark Plug
  • First Colt balloon to appear at Icicle – Sunrise EI-BDJ
5th Icicle
8/9 January 1977
  • 84 flights by 60 balloons on Saturday – a calm day with clear skies
  • First flights of Pink Panther, Windfall, J&B Junior and Le Billett
4th Icicle
3/4 January 1976
  • Gale force winds threatened to wreck the Meet
  • 29 balloons flew from Savernake Forest
  • Maiden flight of Thunder Outspan G-BDOR
  • First (then unregistered) Cameron Viva (later G-BDNV)
3rd Icicle
4/5 January 1975
  • Launch site at Savernake Forest used
  • First display of hang glider drop from balloon in the UK at 12700 ft
  • 38 different balloons flew
  • Low cloud and strengthening SW wind prevents Sunday flying
2nd Icicle
5/6 January 1974
  • 16 balloons flew despite strong winds
  • G-AZRN hit by curlover and contacted tree and power lines
  • Dream Machine collided with tree
1st Icicle
6/7 January 1973
  • John Noakes of Blue Peter filmed in Beatrice
  • Flight of first Thunder built balloon – G-BAIR
  • Flight of world’s first hot air airship – G-BAMK
  • London Pride II rescued by tree fellers…

With thanks to Alec Jenkinson for the use of extracts from his book “Balloons Around Newbury – Twenty Adventurous Years“.