Balloon Repair Station

EB News 16.04.12

EB News 16.04.12

Gatwick shutdown by Balloon
Friday the 13th certainly lived up to its reputation this time around with two balloon incidents making headline news. Despite the somewhat exaggerated news claims only five aircraft were held on take-off on Friday morning around 0900 whilst Gatwick tried to track a balloon that had been reported as being in their zone. Incoming flights were not affected. During the delay passengers reported being given tours of the cockpit by the crews of waiting aircraft. Although the closure only lasted around ten minutes it left long delays for some departing flights. Gatwick controllers attributed the failure to identify the balloon, which had been reported close to Horsham, as being caused by thick fog! The Sun in its usual way (clearly to ensure it got its facts correct) asked the pilot to contact them for their take on the story! I bet the phones rang hot (not)!! Amazingly the London Evening Standard headed up the story with a picture of Northampton-based Ride Operator Lawrie Ellis’s balloon. The picture has now been removed from then website but the story is reasonably accurate and includes a quote or two. A rather puzzled Lawrie explained it definitely wasn’t him and anyway you can clearly see the picture shows it isn’t even misty let alone foggy.

And elsewhere….
A balloon also had a close encounter with a powercable (tiddly on this time) when, during a straightforward quite uninteresting approach a strong gust carried it quite a considerable distance the crown of the envelope ending up being draped over three phase cables just short of a pond. Pilot John Russell was praised for his actions by all onboard. The incident happened near West Haddlesley near Selby. The news report in the York Press is brilliant, the passengers praising the pilot and crew for their actions. If you scroll to the bottom there are some great comments that will make you laugh. Well done Captain Russell.

Opportunity to get involved in Balloon Competitions
For balloon competitions to stand any chance of working (apart from the Irish ones of course) then Observers are needed. These are the brave souls who observe the individual balloon pilots and their crews during the various national and international competitions. The BBAC runs the Observers in the UK and are actively recruiting now. If you fancy getting more involved in ballooning but not necessarily going for a licence or even crewing then this could be for you. No previous experience is required just a love of ballooning and a reasonable grasp of map reading. Observers are a friendly dedicated bunch and the unsung heroes of the world of Competition Ballooning and frequently attend meets both at home and abroad. If you want to find out more don’t delay drop a note to Jo Slade at

Ken goes Nuclear in G-BSBM
The old Nuclear Electric balloon, a Cameron N-77 G-BSBM, has once more taken to the skies. This rather dusty envelope had been living in Ian Chadwick’s garage for ages having been donated to the Balloon Preservation Group years ago. Ken ‘the Fireman’ Lowry had been using the planet’s last Propane resources flying our old balloon G-BMLJ (in which he checked out last year) but at the end of last year it was becoming apparent that fuel consumption versus staying above 500 feet was getting harder to maintain. BSBM (unfortunate reg if you are dyspepsic) had been dropped off with us about six months ago with a view to getting airworthy again and apart from some serious big-time mildew was actually fine, passing the grab test and not appearing porous. After the normal, rather protracted, encounter with the CAA the paperwork finally arrived. Shortly after the documents landed on the mat Ken and Chadders junior took the old thing for a flight and reported that it flew like a dream hardly seeming to use any propane. Well we pointed out that such things are relative! BSBM was built in 1990 (s/n 2229) for Nuclear Electric PLC. It was de-registered in July 1998 and donated to the BPG. It spent a lot of its life tethering and had 241 hours when it was deemed airworthy once more. If memory serves it was originally operated by Dave Partridge’s company, Air 2 Air, based in Bristol. Their offices were in a blockhouse overhanging the river down Coronation Road.

Team Wellwick 3 Show Victory
Our gallant Team Wellwick riders managed three great finishes last weekend. Steph James managed a very respectable double clear at the Pony of the Year Show, the mad accountant Angela scored a first and second place at the Patchetts Horse Show. Meanwhile Mary Dunkley and Georgie Jeffrey hacked to the Cholesbury Show and then Georgie managed a third in the coloured pony class and Mary a third and fourth in hers. The only let down was that we are still awaiting some clutch seals for Frank.
He’s not a happy lorry and is now stranded at the top of the yard at a jaunty angle.

Wake Turbulence
A reminder about wake turbulence, especially with reference to balloons, has been issued by the CAA. The current Air Information Circular which references Wake Turbulence is AIC: P 072/2010. The CAA Safety Sense Leaflet number 15 (revised in 2009) also covers Wake Turbulence and may be found at: There was an incident between a balloon and Airbus in 2000 which made the news and the AAIB report can be found at

Changing CAMO provider
Ian Chadwick of the CAA has stated that following earlier rumours there will now not be a charge made by the CAA to AOC holders should they decide to change their contracted CAMO provider. A new AOC variation form (SRG 1311 downloadable from the CAA website) needs to be completed on every change occasion (individual balloon). Also, a new maintenance agreement for the balloon will need to accompany the form and the amended Operations Manual. This is good news for both AOC holders and CAMOs.

Advertising, Balloons and the Olympics
Its not enough that loads of airspace is to be restricted or closed during the Olympics but the nutters have also published a ‘what you can and cannot advertise in the various designated areas which include the sky’. So if you choose to wobble into the skies in your logoed balloon advertising a company, defunct or not, you could be in trouble. To read the nonsense check the link to the Advertising Regulations for the Olympics. Warning. There is a lot of it! Be aware it is law and, for once, nothing to do with the CAA!

New envelope for Lawrie PH-OOI
As if being accused of being the Gatwick rogue balloon wasn’t enough we’ve had a bad week or so as far as the grab-tester goes and amongst the failures was Lawrie Ellis’s trusted ex-Australian T&C160 G-CGDP. This balloon was originally black but after 400 hours in the Australian sun it had gone seriously green. The fabric failed the grab test evenly over a range of panels so it is thought the deterioration was mainly a result of ultra-violet. At 563 hours it had, had a good innings. After searching the adverts and exhausting the various leads given to him by those in the know he finally found a replacement in the Netherlands. It is a Cameron 160 PH-OOI. Now re-registered as G-CHLE (CLOG would have been good) it will be joining the Ballooning Business Fleet for this season.