The Wairarapa Balloon Fiesta had a successful mass ascension launch today in flawless weather from Masterton's Pioneer Grounds.
A slight northerly allowed the bulk of the 23 balloons to start drifting south, with the spectacular Patriot Space Shuttle balloon lingering over Masterton as a late riser.
Wairarapa Times-Age reporter Elliot Parker, who rode along with Wellington pilot Scott Cursons, got to assist in a daring jump at 2000 feet from his balloon by paraglider Chris Connolly.
Connolly had to untangle his chute and hang it over the side of the basket, then leap out past the chute, which happily flipped upright properly.
Tomorrow the balloons take on another dawn launch over Carterton.
Weather is looking less favourable for the famous Trust House Night Glow at Solway Park this Saturday, where the balloons are lit up like light bulbs to music.
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