Balloon Repair Station

EB News 08.04.12

Close shave Grommit
You’ve probably all seen the dramatic nasties on the wibblywobblyweb of Adam Griffiths arrival in pylons a couple of weeks ago. We are pleased to report all is well with Adam and his two passengers who were rescued after spending five hours suspended from the high voltage cables. Barry Newman of the Chiltern Region Balloon Club thanked all the club members and those attending the local Sackville fly-out who stayed at the crash site and supported Adam and his Mum and Dad until they were rescued.
The following day the balloon was recovered by crane and the operators were highly praised for taking great care not to damage it further. Adam, his parents and his two passengers were most grateful for all the help and kind messages from other balloonists. There is no doubt that Adam’s quick reactions and the procedures he followed saved them all from harm. The incident, thought to be a result of severe wind sheer, is understood to now be under investigation by the AAIB having initially been referred to the BBAC.

Interestingly another balloon met a similar fate near Warwick at about the same time the pilot stating that from a sedate 10knots he suddenly found himself in a fast rate of descent and then shooting along in a completely different direction before, being carried upwards and arriving in a substantial oak tree. All were unharmed and the balloon recovered with damage to the basket and lower panels.

Goodyear Blimp back over London
Currently based at Damyns Hall in Essex the Goodyear Blimp is back flying over central London. Our Jane spotted it on Friday whilst taking Aunty Marlene back to sunny Croydon and on Saturday it covered the somewhat fraut Boat Race. For a great website with links to Goodyear Blimp Facebook and Twitter go to and click on the the ‘pilot log’ bits.

Ultramagic launches Innovations Competition
While everyone else in Spain is bemoaning the Financial Crisis Ultramagic are rising above it and have just announced that the “Ultramagic Innovation Awards” contest is now open with Big Money cash prizes to be won! This clever idea is open to anyone who may have an idea to improve balloons and ballooning. That means crews as well!
Entries close on June 30th. To find out more go to and scroll down to the bottom left for the links. If anyone comes up with an everlasting, self healing envelope we will find you! We left a tube of Sticks like **** on the bench once and someone asked what we used it for. We told them it was a quick way of fixing scoops. They looked surprised and said “Crikey, I thought it was inflammable”. Amazing. Velcro-ing in the most often burnt lower panels might be a good idea!

Exam Congratulations
Last week we had Chris Timson down to do his exams. Choosing to do all five at once he managed to pass them all with top marks except for Human Performance which was a miserable 90%! Visiting with a Ride balloon for repair (which was going to take a while) Alex Farrant was coerced into sitting some exams as well. He has been revising for a while and continuingly nagged by his dad Mike to get on with taking them so come the end of the day he had managed to sit and pass four. Good on you.

Proof Pressure Testing comes around again
It seems hardly possible that it is over ten years since we had the proof pressure test thrust upon us from the powers that be but here we are. The first tests were carried out in 2002 so for some the repeat test may soon be required. Cameron Balloons have now amended their requirements for the lifing on PRVs so at least in their case PRVs fitted at the same time as the PPT is carried out (providing they are no more than five years old) will only need changing the next 10 year PPT date. Lindstrand Balloons have always done this. For details on the regulations and inspections on Flight Cylinders see the article Inspecting Flight Cylinders in the Technical Bit.

Team Wellwick triumph
For those that don’t know Easy Balloons sponsors Team Wellwick and Frank the Lorry. We realise that horses and balloons don’t seem comfy neighbours (pun fully intended) but we like to do our bit keeping up good relations with the horsey world. The first big outing of the year was the Halton Sponsored ride and it is a blitz. The RAF shut the airfield and open up the surrounding woods allowing all and sundry to charge flat out round their superb cross country course culminating in a full tilt boogy charge around the airfield and over the Jet Provost to the final fence. This year the weather was superb and Team Wellwick came back with our Mary on the new pony and Stef on the appropriately named Rocky with Golds and the other three got Silvers. My horse is busy being in foal so didn’t enter this year. They reported that this year they couldn’t see over the biggest jumps!

ARC expired. love CAA
If you’ve received an email from the CAA’s A&ASRG telling you that your balloon does not have a valid Arc so cannot be flown please pay heed. It is hardly surprising that so many balloonists have no real idea how the EASA system works as it is all so confusing. In the olden days the release to service certificate (IR4) had two parts. The top bit said it had been Inspected and could be Released to Service and the bottom bit said that all the paperwork was in order and that the proper components could be used together and any ADs and SBs had been complied with and that a Certificate of Maintenance Review (CRS) could be issued. Nowadays it is two bits of paper. The Inspection and Release to Service, which is generally a statement that the Annual/100hr inspection has been completed, and the Airworthiness Review Certificate stating that the aircraft, maintenance and components have all been checked against lovely things like the TCDS, manuals and ADs and SBs. If the aircraft is in a CAMO, which Ride Balloons have to be, then the ARC may be extended. This inevitably means that the two bits of paper get out of sync. Add to this the date you need to renew your CAMO agreement it is more than likely you end up with three dates to juggle with. If either the ARC or the Annual/100hour inspection are out of date then you cannot be legally flown.
The CAA reminder isn’t user friendly. You need to tell them if the aircraft has been withdrawn from service (failed a grab test too porous for example) if it has been flown into a river and destroyed or has been seriously damaged. You are told that if it is undergoing maintenance and the ARC will be reissued on completion you can ignore the reminder.
So if you have just run out of funds, or have decided to leave it until later in the year to get it airworthy, ignore the reminder. If you state that it has been withdrawn from service (even if you think you may use it again in the future) it will almost certainly be removed from the Register and you will be faced with a large bill from the CAA to get it back on.
The quote ‘The CAA has not been advised that the document has been extended or re-issued as required by Commission Regulation (EC) No 2042/2003.’ Is a bit of a bluff. It is true I that you cannot fly an aircraft without a valid CofA and without an ARC the CofA is invalid but there is nothing to say an aircraft must have a valid ARC if you don’t intend flying it. (EC) No 2042/2003 is a 165 page tome outlining airworthiness rules and regulations. About page 4 covers what the owner needs to know.

M.A.201 Responsibilities
(a) The owner is responsible for the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft and shall ensure that no flight takes place unless:
1. the aircraft is maintained in an airworthy condition, and;
2. any operational and emergency equipment fitted is correctly installed and serviceable or clearly identified as unserviceable, and;
3. the airworthiness certificate remains valid, and;
4. the maintenance of the aircraft is performed in accordance with the approved maintenance programme as speci fied in M.A.302.

The link to the CAA bit about airworthiness and links to related topics is at or you can contact the CAA Airworthiness and Approvals department at

Just a quiet reminder. For private balloonists Easy Balloons offer a one date service for both the Inspection and ARC and no requirement to be in a CAMO for £130 (£100 for hoppers) all in and if you need help or advice please call 01296 624725 during working hours or email any time.

Strange stirrings in the back workshop
Following a massive clear out of all those things we will never use or get around to doing and the sale of a couple of items falling through one of the Honda S800s is going to be put back on the road after many a year slumbering in the shed. Written on the windscreen was ‘Pete 00’ testifying to the fact that they haven’t moved since 2000! So far we have found all the bits for the engine and put that together and the bodywork is well on the way to being ready to lift off the chassis. More later.

G-BZBH good for another year
Recent visitor for its annual G-BZBH passed its annual with flying colours. With 271 hours on the clock this 1978 Thunder 65 Bolt (s/n 173) was built of crinkly fabric in the old Thunder Factory in Leonard Street, London.
One of the oldest balloons still flying it was originally purchased by the Serendipity Group and registered to Peter Sadler and Roger Whittaker. They eventually sold it to Bob Craike in 1991 and he in turn sold it to its present owners Phil Hebdon and Charlotte Fraser. It currently sports its original basket and a C2 burner.