Hungerford bids goodbye to hot air balloon pioneer

David Liddiard, a hot air balloon pioneer and former mayor of Hungerford, has died aged 89. His family report he passed away peacefully at the Brendoncare nursing home in Froxfield.

Liddiard led a remarkable life that included, in addition to pioneering hot air ballooning as a sport in the 1970s, a political career in three different local authorities over four decades. He also participated in many local organisations and even drove in the 1954 Monte Carlo rally despite being a full-time farmer at the time.

Liddiard perhaps best summed up his adventurous life when he told local newspaper Newbury Weekly News on his retirement from civic life:

“I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed my time. I don’t think many people, even if they lived twice as long, could have had so much fun as I have.”

Liddiard gained his hot air balloon in 1972, when the modern hot air balloon was still relatively young. Britain’s first modern hot air balloon, the Bristol Belle, had only been built five years earlier. He later took up the vice-presidency of British Balloon and Airship Club in 1976 and went on to participate in various airborne exploits. This included piloting the Zanussi Airship and launching a hang glider from his balloon so it could be the first to cross the English Channel.

He also founded the Icicle Meet balloon festival in 1972. This takes place on the first weekend of each year and still continues to entice balloonists from around the world.

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