EXCITEMENT is building in Malmesbury as the town gears up to recreate an historic hot air balloon flight in three weeks.

Explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams and James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, will take to the skies on Sunday, May 21 to replicate the famous Eclipse Flight of 1881.

The original flight, which took place 136 years ago, saw Walter Powell, the Victorian explorer and Malmesbury MP, launch from what is now Cross Hayes car park in the centre of town.

Walter Powell had a great passion for ballooning and the whole town turned out to see him off, however, on a separate flight a few months later, both MP and balloon were lost over the English Channel and never seen again. 

The present day flight will lift off from exactly the same spot with activities beginning at 4.30pm ahead of the launch at 6.30pm.

Celebrations begin on Friday, May 19 with a lecture by Sir David Hempleman-Adams and James Gray at Malmesbury Town Hall before an activity day on the Saturday.

Tickets for both events are available from the Athelstan Museum.

Angela Sykes, event organiser, said: “Every penny raised from this incredible event will go towards the restoration of the Moravian Church. 

“What has been an eyesore in the town for two decades will soon become a great space for the community and the expanding work of the museum. 

For more information go to malmesburyeclipseflight.co.uk