A hot air balloon will fly over Loch Lomond to promote a university's work to encourage young people to study for a degree.

Two doctoral researchers at the University of Strathclyde are set to launch Scotland’s first university-branded hot air balloon over Loch Lomond on Saturday evening.

Sheik Abdul Malik and Maisie Keogh will send the balloon on its inaugural flight at Ross Priory, Strathclyde’s conference venue.

The balloon took a route over the loch in the 45-minute flight.

Sheik and Maisie have produced the hot air balloon, by building on the development of Wee Andy, a cold-air balloon one-tenth Big Andy’s size, which was launched in April 2022.

The balloon has been named in honour of the university's founder John Anderson.

They have carried out the development over the past four years, through Strathclyde University Hot Air Balloon Society (SUHABS).  

The balloons will be primarily used as educational tools, helping SUHABS to develop its STEM outreach programme in the local community and organising workshops around principles in physics and aviation. 

Maisie said: “Both Wee Andy and Big Andy have so much potential to enhance the student experience at Strathclyde and enable young people in Scotland to access something that is typically a high-barrier sector and activity. 

“By improving the mental and physical well-being of students through practical flying activities, this balloon has the ability to help produce graduates who are ambitious, collaborative and bold.

“We plan to work with local STEM hubs to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue university degrees by promoting the positive values that hot air ballooning can teach.” 

Glasgow City Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren is among those who will attend the naming ceremony and the maiden event, along with Councillor Philip Braat, and Lawlor Technologies, a legacy partner in the balloon project. 

Sheik, of Strathclyde’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, who founded SUHABS in 2019, said: “This iconic hot air balloon will be a pride and joy attraction at Strathclyde for decades to come.

"By visiting schools across Scotland and talking to young people from diverse backgrounds, we hope to encourage them to actively participate in hot air ballooning. This is a community investment in future generations of explorers and adventurers, and we want them to be inspired by what they can achieve."