Darth Vader Spotted Floating Across Bristol For International Balloon Fiesta
Thousands of balloon enthusiasts have descended upon Bristol for this year's International Balloon Fiesta. The four-day extravaganza is Europe's largest balloon event and sees more than 130 colourful hot air balloons launch into the sky.
But residents got a bit of a surprise at this year's fiesta, which kicked off today, as they spotted the enormous figure of Darth Vader's head floating over the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
The Star Wars villain was part in a mass ascent, along with 56 other balloons from countries around the world, including Japan and Taiwan.
Ian Martin is the head of the ballooning team for the fiesta and he co-piloted the balloon.
Speaking to MailOnline after the flight, he said it was a very emotional moment and has spent the past two days gearing up for the ascent.
The experienced pilot said: "The main pilot is from Belgium so the two of us flew and we worked together to do the flight.
"I have never flown in Darth Vader before.
"It was emotional because of the work we have put in over the last 24-48 hours to put this on this morning.
"It was emotional for the effort that people had put into getting Darth Vader here and emotional for me to fly in him as well.
"We would like to thank the public for all the support they have given us.
"People were so excited to see it. We had people come to our landing spot who had followed it across the city."
The impressive balloon was built by in Bristol 12 years ago by Cameron Balloons. However, up until today, the balloon - which had popped up in all corners of the globe, appearing in Australia and the United States - had never flown over the city.
But this year, supporters managed to raise more than £5,000 to see Lord Vader return home for the fiesta.
According to reports, the money raised will now go to supporting the event, which costs organisers £750,000 each year to run.
Sharing a photograph of the balloon on the event's official Twitter page, a Bristol Balloon Fiesta spokesperson said they were happy to finally see Vader back.
The group wrote: "A Bristol icon over another icon of this fine city! Is anyone else feeling very proud right now?"
Meanwhile, in a post to Facebook after the mass ascent, the balloon's own page read: "Darth is home."
Featured Image Credit: PA