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Spotlight on Strath Societies – Hot Air Balloon Society

Students in the basket of a hot air balloon getting ready to take off

In 2019, our Founder and President Sheik Abdul Malik joined the University of Strathclyde as a Doctoral Researcher in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. Having already been a keen member of the Bristol University Hot Air Balloon Society during his undergraduate studies, he was eager to share his passion for ballooning bringing that same energy and enthusiasm for the activity with him to Strathclyde. He was surprised to find that the university didn’t already have a society dedicated to ballooning and quickly recognised this as a missed opportunity to engage all students and staff. So, he immediately established the Strathclyde University Hot Air Balloon Society (SUHABS).

Having worked with the Strathclyde Student’s Union to successfully set up the society, Malik was keen to take full advantage of all opportunities available to start flying and sharing his knowledge and experience with others. Having already attended numerous ballooning events across the UK whilst he was at Bristol, he was keen to take SUHABS along to as many as possible. Strathaven Balloon Festival is one of the largest ballooning meetups in Scotland and in 2019, the newly founded society participated in the much-anticipated event. There he was able to refine his skills and introduce hot air ballooning to other interested individuals who were keen to learn more about this well-established activity.

SUHAB President Sheik Abdul Malik at the Strathaven Hot Air Balloon Festival

However, seeing the great successes that balloon owners had in engaging and attracting new audiences coupled with his experience at Bristol where the club had their own balloon, he quickly turned his attention to a new project. He wanted to be in a position to purchase the University of Strathclyde’s very first hot air balloon, and focus on fully engaging the Strathclyde community in related ballooning events and activities. This would allow the university to become the only active hot air ballooning society in Scotland to own and operate a balloon, and he predicted that this would be an excellent opportunity to highlight Strathclyde to a global audience.

One thing that Malik didn’t anticipate however, was the COVID-19 pandemic.

SUHABS is a society that relies on the ability to travel, not just within the UK, but internationally, to participate in ballooning festivals and shows hosted by the global ballooning community. Now that the aim of the club was to be able to purchase a hot air balloon, the ability to travel to events and network with owners and enthusiasts was vital. As with many of the clubs and societies at the Strathclyde Students’ Union, our ability to fully develop has been significantly limited.

Off the Ground

Despite this, we have been using our time wisely to plan how we want to progress the society post-lockdown. We haven’t let the pandemic stop us from planning our approach for securing our own hot air balloon.

Hot Air Balloon with students around it

Already this year, with the help of the Strathclyde Student’s Union, we secured a large amount of funding to purchase our tethering equipment, an essential item for ensuring that the balloon is stable when we are holding tethered flights. Now we have our sights set on purchasing the hot air balloon itself.

Students in the basket of a balloon getting ready to take off

We have been working closely with designers and manufacturers over several months to create visual representations of how the balloon will look, what functionality it will have, and which competitions and festivals we can transport it to. Now, after, much preparation we are at the stage where we are ready to begin fundraising.

Hot air balloon

Fundraising

We recently we kicked off our fundraising campaign, and have been sharing our plans within our networks and throughout the University of Strathclyde. 

Generating the funds to purchase our balloon will be a challenging endeavour. We are relying on the generosity of Strath students, staff and alumni to help us to realise our ambitions. Your support is invaluable to us, and we really appreciate all of your kindness. If you would like to donate to our fund, then you can do so at the link below: 

https://gofund.me/40a16f61 

We are also very proud to officially announce that Lawlor Technologies  who have supported us in numerous other projects is now one of our partners! 

Chris Lawlor is a Strathclyde Alumni who founded his own highly successful technology company. We are thrilled to have them on board with us in this exciting endeavour, and we can’t wait to work with them more closely over the coming months.  

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our LinkedIn Page to stay up to date with all of our activities and events in and around campus.  

We are also looking to grow our society!  We encourage those with an interest in ballooning to come along and get involved! 

Written by Maisie Keogh, member of SUHABS
Got your own story to tell?  Get in contact here
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