Building a Thai Rocket for Nerd TV Productions

The First Contact 

In the early months of 2015, Skyburst were approached by Nerd TV to recreate a Thai Rocket which had gone viral on Facebook and Youtube, for Channel 4’s new TV show ‘Experimental’. Skyburst were given 2 months to recreate the rocket, and had only this video to figure out how to do it. 

After many views of the above video, Skyburst decided that Bamboo would be the strongest and lightest material to create the structure with, the next challenge was how it actually fired. At first, we thought the wheel was spun with a motorised device, but after further inspection of the video, we realised it had dedicated motors to spin the wheel first. Traditionally, the black powder (gun powder) is pressed into the bamboo sections with a choke section causing the up thrust across the entire main beam. Due to health and safety reasons, and the absolutely devastating results this can cause, we had specific motors created which we would attach to the frame. See what happens when the 20ft Thai Girandola’s go wrong!

In The Beginning 

IMG_20150326_153531We knew only 1 person who was perfect to get this project off the ground. We contacted Peter Stone, from Dean Fireworks, to see what his opinion was and if he thought he could create motors with enough thrust to lift structure into the sky. Peter was excited to take the challenge on, and instantly started created bespoke drivers and testing the maximum thrust created. But, we needed to know what it weighed before we could decide on the final size of thrusters.

Due to safety reasons and unpredictability, Skyburst advised Nerd TV they would be prepared to build an 8ft Girandola, not the 20ft wheel shown in the original video. With the final diameter decided, we could now order in multiple sizes and lengths of bamboo to understand what was best to use. See how we constructed it with the timelapse video.

Prototype Testing

NIMG_20150306_164924ow that we had built the main frame we are confident will work, weighing in at 11 Kilograms. We needed to understand the amount of thrust generated by the motors Peter Stone had created for us. He found a 8 x 100mm diameter motor with a 15mm choke,  would generate enough thrust to lift the frame into the air.

Before we tested the full size 8ft frame, Peter made a prototype which was only 4ft with half scale motors to give us an idea of how the finished product will perform. Which you can see, worked perfectly in the next video!

Full Size Testing

So, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and test with the full size motors and frame. Due to the wind conditions, we had a successful launch, which quickly flipped in the wind, and plummeted straight at the floor. See video below for the first test results.

Knowing that if it wasn’t for the wind, we would have had a successful launch, we thought we’d up the thrust for the second test, in the hope for additional height. In the first video, we used 15mm chokes on the motors, but this time we reduced it to a 14mm choke to increase the thrust created. Not only did we increase the thrust of the upwards motors, but also the spin drivers, as we were not only looking for height but the corkscrew effect in the smoke to. The results were not what we expected, as you will see in the next video;

IMG_20150324_115420With the second test blowing itself to pieces, we had run out of time for any additional tests before the big day when all the film crew arrived. So, to be on the safe side, we made an identical frame, and asked Peter to keep with the 15mm choke as this gave us a successful launch. With the film crew wanting to do 2 launches in total, we had our fingers crossed that the parachute would open, and return the frame to the earth in 1 piece, able to fly again on the following day. At this stage, the parachute was the only part we hadn’t got to successfully work.


The Final Chapter

SIMG_20150326_164304o, the time had come! Production team were on site, and we had to show what we had been up to! Once we got to our dedicated firing site on the Mendips, Producer Steve turned to Luke and said ‘So, are we looking at a successful flight today?’. Which Luke replied ‘Its completely 50/50 at the moment, we’ve had 2 tests, 1 flew, the other.. well.. Exploded.. Spectacularly!’. Which all makes for good TV, right?

Film crews all in position, Skyburst attached the parachute, and fused all the drivers to ignite at appropriate times. Praying we would have our first fully successful flight, with operational parachute.. It was apparent, the only thing on site that was flying high at this point, was everybody’s nerves!



There was no going back, electrical firing system was booted up ready to go, everyone were in their positions ready to go… See for yourselves what happened next!

YES! It worked! At the point the parachute opened perfectly and it started gently returning to earth.. All Skyburst Crew Erupted with cheers of joy, which was promptly stopped with lots of ‘Shhhhh’ing’ from the production team, as we were interrupting all their microphones! With all teams onsite over the moon with the result, we all went for a celebratory beer and well deserved dinner after a long day, resting up ready for launch #2!



After looking through all the High Quality footage Nerd TV caught on the first successful launch, we thought we’d step it up one more time… We’ll try a second launch with 14mm chokes, with the hope of a faster and higher result… Well, at least we had a rough idea of what might happen.. Here is the second launch;


Special Thanks to:

All Skyburst Crew for building the frame, and logistics

Peter Stone – Dean Fireworks, for creating and testing all pyro involved.

Tom Gouder + Evie Eldridge – Parachute Construction and Repairs.

All the team at Nerd TV for giving us such a fantastic opportunity!

Bamboo supplied by

Skyburst Recreate Secret Weapon Designed for D-Day. The Great Panjandrum!

All PreppedOn 5th June 2009, Skyburst recreate their version of the ‘Great Panjandrum’. Unfortunately it never made the D-Day landings, but did make a roll on part featured in Dads Army!

These great photos and videos reveal how the Great Panjandrum, one of the most bizarre British creations, was wheeled out on this day to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

The original device was packed with over 400lbs of high explosives,  reached a great height of 10ft and would be propelled to over 60mph, hoping to blast a hole in the Nazi’s Atlantic Wall Defence.

But, during some of the first tests, it veered out of control nearly wiping out a whole audience of VIP’s! Sadly, further tests proved that the weapon was too unstable and unpredictable, due to miss fires and bumps on the beaches.

Final ChcksAll of the tests took place on Westward Ho! In North Devon, where it was very common to see a group of commanders and soldiers being chases up and down the by this rolling time bomb!

So, the time had come for Skyburst The Firework Co to recreate this uncontrollable rolling disaster, which bought much joy among the team involved. Recreating the device slightly smaller, at 6ft high by 3ft wide, with much appreciated help from archive specialist Tony Koorlander, Skyburst were ready to get explosive!

As the Great Panjandrum rolled into place, a few worried faces asked the question. ‘It isn’t actually packed full ofexplosives is it?’ Skyburst responded, much to their relief and Skyburst’s disappointment, ‘no, we don’t want to kill any dog walkers or onlookers!’

Nerves running high as the replica Panjandrum stood at the ready on a small ramp, everyone was praying that the untested replica was going to work!

Fully lit PanjandrumCounting down and standing clear, a wave of the Union Flag signalled the ignition of the device as it erupted into a shower of sparks! With all the rockets lit, and blasting away, the Great Panjandrum left the ramp blowing everyone away with its lack of speed. But, it was travelling in a steady straight line, which was a good result!

Although the site was great to look at, there was great disappointment that the replica only travelled a mere 50 out of the proposed 500m.


Mr Pittaway followed on to say ‘It was fantastic! All the fireworks set off, so it was a pretty spectacular way to mark the D-Day commemoration

‘It did manage to go in a straight line, but only around 50m’

Meet The Team!10 workers from Skyburst spent two days attaching dozens of rocketsto the rims of the Drum, which had been commissioned by the organisers of the local Appledoor Book Festival.

The original was designed by Nevil Shute Norway, who predicted it would travel at speeds exceeding 60mph and then to blow a hole in the wall large enough to drive a tank through!

It’s a real shame it tended to attack our men more often than not!

Please see the Videos below, first showing the replica Drum created by Skyburst, and the second with real footage of the original tests.

Interested in recreating something similar yourself? Skyburst love a challenge! Check out some of their otherSpecial Projects and get in touch

Luke Christie 01179231368

Grand Panjandrum

British Secret Wartime Follies

20 Interesting Facts about July 4th

482985_114876818642805_1320215111_nThe 4th July marks the Birthday of America. In 1776, on this day, the members of the second continental congress met in Philadelphia, adopting the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming their sovereignty from Great Britain.

There are many ways the American people choose to celebrate this day. From BBQs and drinks, parades, festivals and even Hot Dog Eating Competitions! But the most popular it seems, is to celebrate with fireworks! Many people spot their opportunity to get out the house, and join thousands of fellow Americans to watch a Humongous Professional Firework Display. But it’s becoming more aware that people are choosing to do the celebrations at home, with friends and family in the garden, where they can perform their own celebratory private firework display.

So, here are 20 facts you may or may not know about Independence Day.

1. Initially adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776, the revised version of the Declaration of Independence was not adopted until two days later.

2. The oldest, continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785.

USA-4th-july-glitter SB3. The Declaration of Independence was penned by Thomas Jeffersonand signed by 56 men representing 13 colonies.

4. One of the United States’ patriotic songs, “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by British military officers prior to the Revolution as a means to mock the disorganized American colonists who fought alongside them during the French and Indian Wars.

5. France, Greece, Poland, Russia and several countries in South America used the Declaration of Independence as a beacon in their own struggles for freedom.

6. The “Star Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 and not decreed the official national anthem of the United States until 1931.

7. Three U.S. Presidents, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, died on July 4th; Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other in 1826 while Monroe died in 1831.

8. In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation was 2.5 million. According to the U.S. and World Population Clock, the nation’s estimated population in July 2013 was 316.2 million.

9. The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence.

10. Both the Philippines and Rwanda celebrate July 4th as a day of liberation. In Southeast Asia, it is known as“Republic Day” and Rwandans celebrate “Liberation Day.”

11. The country’s 30th president, Calvin Coolidge, was born on Independence Day in 1872.

fourth-of-july-hot-dog SB12. Americans consume about 155 million hot dogs on Independence Day alone; it is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year.

13. In 1870 Congress made Independence Day an official unpaid holiday; in 1938, it was changed to a paid federal holiday.

14. Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever major celebration in Philadelphia included a parade and a thirteen-shot cannon salute and fireworks.

15. To avoid cracking it, the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846. To mark the quintessential day, every fourth of July it is symbolically tapped 13 times.

16. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are responsible for the bald eagle as the national bird; Benjamin Franklin wanted it to be the turkey.

17. Eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in Britain.

18. The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimates that more than 14,000 professional firework displayslight up the skies in the United States each 4th of July.

19. Two of our nation’s great national symbols were made overseas. The Liberty Bell was cast in England, and the Statue of Liberty in France.

20. The average age of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence was 45. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at age 70, and Edward Rutledge was the youngest at age 26.

So, the question is. What do you and your family do to celebrate the 4th July? Do you even celebrate it at all?

Here at Skyburst, we think every moment in history should be celebrated like this, as we do Guy Fawkes Night.

Don’t worry though, if you haven’t made any plans yet, its not too late! Order fireworks online now for your 4th July Celebrations, or give us a call to book your Professional Firework Display Now.

flag-fireworks1 SB

Blog by Luke Christie
Skyburst The Firework Co

Fireworks and Funerals… Breaking the Tradition?

downloadBack in early 2000 Skyburst The Firework Company were approached for an interesting project, to scatter the ashes of a lost love one at the wake of the funeral.  With Skyburst being a team of pyro-enthusiasts, they all thought this was as splendid idea, and were happy to help with such a special service.

After testing many types/sizes of rockets, Skyburst finally found the perfect rocket which they felt would send them off in style as well as with a bang! As they deserved to be..

Skyburst didn’t want to handle the ashes without getting to know sed person they were sending off. After a little chat, over coffee, the team now knew who it was they were sending up and how great of a life they had. Skyburst team felt this was the right thing to do, to show respect to the lost loved one who was such a big part of the people around them.

Rocket RIPOnce the process is complete, and required rockets filled. Skyburst will give you the option of taking the special rockets away with you, to send off in the perfect location. But, if you wanted to watch your loved one soar high into the sky, and burst with so muchbeauty, then Skyburst would come along to perform the send-off on your behalf.

Once the word spread of the non-traditional unique celebration, Skyburst found this was becoming a very popular send off for many people across the country.

With only 1 egg cups worth of ashes required per rocket, you can choose the amount of rockets you’d like with plenty left over for any other remembrance services. Its very rare Skyburst get asked to send off a whole person, but it does happen! With such a large request, this can fill up to anywhere between 30-40 rockets.

RIP GEORGEWith rockets being readily available to the public, to buy, transport and store easily, the rockets can be stored for the very special day. But Skyburst thought, why not incorporate someone so special into a fullprofessional firework display? This idea took of quickly, with requests for the largest burst possible! Skyburst have now celebrated loved lives in many high impact display, with the special person eruptingfrom large ground mines, to exploding high in the sky from a 5inch mortar shell.

All the team at Skyburst are honoured to be a part of such a special occasion. Skyburst understand the importance of the someone’s final request, and how such a situation can effect the loved ones around them. Therefor they make the service as smooth and stress free as possible.

To see how this service has affected others in the past, please read this touching story ‘We sent Mum’s ashes up in a firework’ which was recently featured in The Guardian.

If you know someone who’s last wishes are to go off with a bang, please don’t hesitate to contact Luke on 01179231368 or drop him an email

For more info on Skyburst and the services they offer, please click here


Olympic Torch Procession 2012 Firework Celebrations

bridgeIn 2012 the people of Bristol gathered around the iconic Bristol Suspension Bridge to welcome the Olympic Torch Procession. Little did they know, Skyburst The Firework Company, had been quietly setting up a welcoming daytime firework display from 11pm the previous night.

With the pyrotechnic display all set and rigged by 6am, Skyburst waited patiently for the Torch to reach the Bridge at approximately 8am. The excited crew witnessed thousands of people gather in every surrounding area, just to get a glimpse of the Olympic Torch making its way across the bridge.

Nerves running high through both Skyburst and the spectators, the announcement was made that the torch was soon approaching the Bridge. Ready on the big red button, linked to over 500 Red White and Blue Streamers and Mines, Skyburst were finally ready to welcome the Olympic Torch.

As soon as the torch entered the bridge, Skyburst welcomed it with a huge explosion of mines from the first tower. Following the Torch Bearer, mines and streamers continued to erupt in vivid colours from the sides of the bridge until the relay was met in the middle to exchange the Olympic Flame. With yet another large explosion, the procession of the torch and pyrotechnics continued its unforgettable journey across the bridge.

With the unforgettable procession across the bridge now complete, Skyburst picked the perfect moment to celebrate the occasion by covering the Torch Bearer with Gold Flutter Fetti and filling the streets with dazzling gold.

At this point, the cheering people of Bristol thought the showcase was over, but this was not the case at all. Skyburst initiated the final rapid chase sequence of red, white, and blue streamers and mines in succession across the bridge. Overtaking all officials on the bridge, the people of Bristol gasp with amazement as they witnessed an array of coloured mines/streamers/confetti, never before seen in Bristol.

With a final hit of coloured eruptions from all firing positions, accompanied by an ‘earth shattering KABOOM!’, Bristol had truly welcomed the Olympic torch in style!

With the nerves and tension quickly disappearing, all members of Skyburst had beaming smiles and wide grins pinned across their face as they looked back at such a successful morning. With the buzz still emanating from the Skyburst team, they swarm back on the bridge, commencing de-rig and re-opening the bridge for the public.

With the final box going back on the van, Skyburst joined the organisers at a Café in Clifton for a well-deserved celebratory Champagne Breakfast.

All members of Skyburst felt truly privileged to be given the opportunity to work on such a prestigious site for such a memorable event. Director, Alan Christie, expressed how it had always been his dream to perform on such a historical structure, in such a fantastic city, Bristol.

Full video is below. Enjoy!!

Blog by Luke Christie

Skyburst Fireworks – Clifton Suspension Bridge Olympic Torch Procession 2012

Huge thanks to Joab Smith for making the video for us, for more of Joabs work please visit

Health and Safety with Professional Firework Displays

Health and Safety GuideWe’ve all seen the health and safety adverts when it comes to buying your own fireworks from a shop, to then let off
in your back garden. But what about safety when organising your own public event, of which you are having a ‘professional firework display’?

There are over 400 firework companies in the UK currently, and the number is still growing. But unfortunately every year we see people getting rushed to hospital due to a firework related injury, whether that’s consumer fireworks or professionally fired displays.

So if you are holding your own public event with fireworks, is the company you’re using safe? Do you know the correct checks/questions to ask them? Below I have stated a couple of the main points to cover, with your current firework company.

  1. Make sure they are trained to the highest standard:
  • There is only one official recognised qualification available within the firework industry, which is endorsed by City and Guilds, but still a couple of ‘bodies’ out there are recognised for their consciousness towards the health and safety of performing with fireworks.
  • The main one to look out for is the ‘BPA’ (British Pyrotechnic Association), which all the reputable firework companies in the UK are registered with and the only one endorsed by the city and guilds.
  • For a company to be part of the BPA, they must show their competence and safety of knowledge of fireworks, which they are then trained to the standards of the association.
  • Once training is complete, exams passed etc. The company can then run their own training course to bring the standards of their crew/company up to the most recognised in the country, ensuring safety throughout the industry.
  1. Site Risk Assessments/Insurance Cover
  • Every firework company should complete a full, in depth, site risk assessment before intending to perform at any venue.
  • This helps the company understand exactly what material can be used at that certain site, if at all, and ensuring the audience and surrounding area is safe for the size of the display.
  • Again, the BPA hold their own Risk Assessment Courses annually, ensuring all their registered members are performing to the highest, safest standards.
  • Make sure, before you have your display, you request a copy of the current risk assessment and insurance documents to make sure you’re happy with what they will deliver.
  • When it comes to insurance, you need to be covered for everything! Although most firework companies work to the safest standards to prevent accidents happen, there is always the slight possibility something may malfunction.
  • Not only do you want to be insured if a person was injured, but property too.
  • We recommend a minimum insurance cover of £5m, no matter what the event!

Here at Skyburst, we have run for over 30 years without causing any major damage or injury to any property/persons. We pride ourselves on health and safety, from equipment testing and maintenance; regular employee training to thorough and in depth risk assessments. We would never dream of increasing the impact of our display, should it compromise the safe of the general public!

If you would like more info on how Skyburst The Firework Co. operate to the highest standards and safety, our ‘Experts Guide To Safety With Fireworks’ is now available as a free download! Please click HERE to download, or send us a message with your address and we’ll get a glossy copy through your door within a week.

Our guide also includes a handy checklist for you to follow and question your current, Professional Firework Supplier. Don’t forget, if they can’t tick all the boxes, then they aren’t the safest company to use!

Don’t have time to read through it all, but you’re unsure your company is suitable? Drop us an email, or give us a call for a quick chat and we can talk you through what you should expect to be delivered to your event!

Blog written by

Luke Christie

Musical Fireworks Display (Pyro digital) at the Thornbury Bristol Balloon Meet April 2014

On Friday 4th April, Thornbury welcomed hundreds of hot air balloonists to the golf club for their annual meet. The 1658443_621942811219024_1684121254_oevent was run by sponsors, giving many companies in Bristol a chance to get involved and support such a great event, raising hundreds for charity.

Despite a turn in the weather, they still managed to get a few balloons off the ground, giving the Locals of Thornbury a tour of their town from high in the sky.

With the sun setting in the distance of the golf course, families started arriving to enjoy an onsite BBQ and a few drinks with high spirits for the evening’s entertainment.  Once the sun had almost disappeared, the balloonists saw the opportunity to get their masterpieces into place, ready for the big balloon glow finale.

Little did the locals know that one of the largest firework companies in the UK, Skyburst the Firework Co, had been setting up quietly at the back of the golf course to give the evening a finishing touch they would never forget. Skyburst was given the opportunity to be a main sponsor of the event, only 2 weeks prior to the deadline, donating the time, crew and choreography to give a real magical feel to the showcase.

1381367_481302955330251_377032890_nAfter 25 minutes of huge hot air balloons, pulsing and flickering to the music, sudden bursts of colour and glitter filled the sky behind what already was a magnificent site to see.  Once the balloons had deflated, Skyburst took their opportunity to show off what they do best. Performing with Fireworks to music! Using a Pyro digital display, this creates an illusion of fireworks dancing to the beat of the music. Hitting key punctuation throughout the track, and the right selection of effects and firing sequences, Skyburst really made the fireworks dance to the music. With a big build-up of guitar and drum solos, the fireworks got more intense ending with a huge Finale of colour filling the sky on cue with the last beat.

Before the event happened, Skyburst liaised with the organisers many times, ensuring all the minor details of the 10000997_621936994552939_1326451069_odisplay were correct and that all safety procedures were put in place. Once the display had been designed, there was one final meeting to present a video representation of the firework display, ensuring the display was to the standards of the whole event, and that it thrilled, excited and took the crowd through a journey of experience.

You can watch the firework display below, or if you have ideas of a firework display for your own event, you can contact Skyburst HERE.

All details, pictures and videos of the Thornbury Balloon meet can be found of the official website HERE.

Interested in more of Skyburst Displays? Go to their video library HERE.

We’d love to hear what you thought of the event, and this blog. Register on Skyburst’s site to allow posting and commenting below.

Blog written by,

Luke Christie

Skyburst The Firework Co. Performing at Thornbury Bristol Balloon Meet

Latest Pyro-Digital Construction

You may think that the beginning of the year is quiet for a firework company.

At Skyburst, this is not the case. We’ve been spending the first three months of the year updating our hardware and firing equipment ready for the new season. Coupled with our digital firing systems, the new hardware open up a whole range of exciting possibilities. We simply can’t wait to get these out on our firing sites!

Having the hardware and software to allow us to fire to within 100th of a second, enables us to make the fireworks dance to every beat of the music with precision. Our latest equipment additions allow us to create even more dramatic effects in the sky as we now have the capability to fire single shot fireworks as low as 20 degrees off the floor, in any formation. Whether everything is fired together, in a sequence from left to right, a V-formation, fast swipes… the possibilities are endless!