Balloon Repair Station

EB News 23.04.12

EB News 23.04.12

London marathon a go-go
For those of you that watched the Annual London Marathon on the 22nd April then you may have got a glimpse of the traditional Start Line line-up of balloons, once again organised by Nick Langley’s Balloon & Airship Company. Eight balloons tethered in quite gusty conditions that didn’t improve but most managed to remain inflated until ten o’clock. Lee Hooper only just made it with a brand new Lindstrand LBL 77A G-CHDH, for Jones Lang LaSalle. The paperwork had been miraculously Fast-Tracked by the CAA (through the efforts of Graham Hallett of the BBAC) and was delivered by hand on the day. Now, having a gander at Jones-whotsits &wherefore’s webblypage it seems like it ought to be a grand contract. Wonder if they need a pilot!

Tango-Golf all legal
Amongst the angst and dross that usually falls through the letterbox great news arrived on Saturday 21st compliments of Postman Pat. The ARC and CofA for the old and rusty BBM&L’s G-BHTG Thunder AX6-56 Bolt plonked on the mat. This means that through the enormous efforts of Barrie Bower at Cameron Balloons and the help of Kirsty in the SRG Applications and Approvals Department this venerable balloon can once more fly with its original bottom end which includes a head-warming Hot-Tom double burner. The application was made possible as, disappearing into the Museum’s library, the original Thunder Manual was dug out by Martyn Turner and once put with the other reams of paperwork, including a statement from Barrie Bower saying how lovely and safe it all was, it finally did the trick. Tim Turner of the BBM&L is hoping that, weather permitting, it will be at the BBM&L Inflation Day which has now changed venue to Pidley (see the Events page for details). We are putting together a short article which should be up in the next couple of days (horse permitting!).

Whoops, Hand(s) up!
Commiserations to Kent balloonist Dave Johnson who slipped in the garden whilst hanging out the washing and trollied his beer glass raising arm. It has been pinned, wired and stapled back together, wrapped in chicken wire, covered in plaster of Paris and stuffed in an old quilt. Very fortunately it has been set at a sensible angle meaning he can still lean on the basket and raise a glass. His missus, just visible in the background, was more annoyed that he stole her nightie. Allegedly, Dave says that flying should still be possible providing someone can pull the ripline for him. We reckon the extra weight of the cast and internal scaffolding means he’ll be looking for a larger envelope in the future. Well one thing is certain, going through the X-ray machine at the airport will be fun for a few years to come! Chin up Dave glad to see you’re still smiling, it’s the missus we feel sorry for.

Airfield Meets
North Weald is holding a Classic Fly-In on the weekend of the 9-10 June and will be the place to see some unusual and rare aircraft. This great airfield is home to Hunters, Jet Provosts, Mustangs and a Kitty Hawk to name a few. Last time I was there a couple of DC4s were parked up having been used in a film! There is also The Squadron, one of the UK airfields best cafés. It is also rumoured that there will be an end of day display by a couple of warbirds, a balloon Night Glow and Firework Display later in the year. Full details from

Sywell is hosting AeroExpo UK from 25-27 May. This is the dedicated UK General Aviation Exhibition for 2012, showcasing everything from ultralights through to turbo props and jets. Whether you are interested in learning to fly, or are already a Pilot and want to view the latest products available, AeroExpo UK is the event to attend in the UK! Full details from

What’s your Vector Victor
Saturday 21st saw a very full house at the BBAC Instructor Day held at the NFU Headquarters in Stratford-upon-Avon. With best part of 50 instructors and potential instructors turning out, including some from Germany, Italy and Eire. Jonathan Dyer and the BBAC Training Officer, Dave Court, found themselves conducting a very packed meeting. The morning session saw discussions on fuel management with relation to the Flight Manual and training manual. The given scenario of Mark IV Super burner with vapour pilot lights, two masters and two slaves and how the fuel would be managed provided a surprisingly amount of discussion! Dave Court steered the afternoon session through the forthcoming legislation most of which is ‘what if maybe’. A mainly silent incredulous audience listened intently as the EASA nonsense was revealed. Dave Court and the BBAC have managed to get quite a few concessions but EASA have largely followed their usual consultation process and listened to no-one, the final legislation being made by faceless polititions in a darkened room swapping deals. The biggest task facing the BBAC now apart, from having to become an EASA Training Organisation, will be to put in place an EASA Safety Management System (SMS) with reference to training. Personally speaking I think the whole thing has gone mad. The meeting ended at fivish and was declared a very fine day. There were actually representatives from all the BBAC regions present so watch the regional newsletters for further details.

CAA opt for early start on EASA Licensing
Whilst the rest of EASAland have opted for a year off to await the final plans coming together on how exactly EASA is going to run licensing the CAA (and bizzarely the Swiss CAA, who aren’t really sort of in it anyway) in their infinite wisdom are kicking off from 1st July. This means you can (theoretically) apply for, or convert to, an EASA licence from then but…..the fog that always surrounds proposed EASA licensing, legislation and the actual procedures the CAA are going to put into place are, as we have come to realise, quite thick. As the CAA decision means nigh on immediate implementation with no Training Organisations in place to support them, the British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) will be applying to become a Training Organisation as soon as possible, something which at moment is quite unavoidable. Quite how the BBAC will fund this is still under discussion but if you are a trainee pilot, or thinking about getting a licence then you should join the BBAC now and give them your support.

As all the new nonsense doesn’t have to be in place until 2015 it is reasonably certain the final requirements and procedures may well change, but without a Training Organisation in place nothing cannot even begin to happen. For Private Pilots currently under training it won’t make any real difference providing their training is completed by 2015. In the case of both the UK PPL and CPL no more will be issued after 7th April 2015. Existing holders of the UK CPL will be able to convert them to a non-expiring one for a single payment. The UK CPL is held in high esteem worldwide so anyone considering going for one before the shut-off date is strongly urged to do so. For all licence holders, if you haven’t converted to an EASA licence by April 2015 then you will not be licensed to fly any EASA Type certified balloons (Annex1), or aircraft come to that, so for most you will be effectively grounded. Meanwhile the rest of the EASA member states have put the entire system on hold. Level playing field? More like crazy golf.

Congratulations Captain
A few weeks ago Maurycy Ptaszynski drove (almost non-stop) from Edinburgh down to us to take his exams. He had been due to arrive the day before but horrendous traffic meant he never reached us until the following morning, still, once the exams were done he was back on the road heading home. Great news followed that he has checked out with Dave Court, the BBAC’s brilliant Training Officer and recently appointed Examiner, on the 7th April in the Edinburgh University Balloon G-CFDF, an Ultramagic 90. Dave described the check flight as ‘a very good safe check flight’. The flight, from Thornton-in-Craven to Carleton-in-Craven, formed part of the successful North West & Pennine Training Weekend held over the Easter Weekend. Back in Edinburgh, on home turf, he completed his solo on the 11th April under the watchful eye of jet-jockey Mark Stelling. Big congratulations all round.
As one of Maurycy’s early training flights was with Dave Court it is interesting to note that under the new EASA training he would not therefore have been permitted to undertake his flight test. Bonkers or what!

Japanese Crop Art.
Now here is something that UK farmers might like to have a go at. Using different varieties of rice Japanese rice growers have been producing some absolutely stunning works of art. Viewing towers are erected to make seeing the creations more clearly have been erected or a viewpoint pre-determined prior to planting. This has been going on since about 2006 but now the art-form has developed into something quite dramatic. As the season progresses the pictures become visible. Aliens take note. Forget crop circles, leave us a message!…/24-unbelievable-photos-of-japanese-rice-field. Quite why Napoleon Bonaparte on Intendant appears in a Japanese paddy field defeats me but what a cracker. Some years ago advertisers planted fields around Luton Airport with what grew into pictures of beer bottles. Then Luton Council went potty and that was that. Typical. Mind you the crop circle that the spacemen left in a field alongside Chequers (on a couple of occasions) in the nineties was most appropriate. Planting a message about HS2 is a thought. Hmmm.

And more on HS2
The workshop looks likely to be even closer to the proposed HS2 route now a revised plan has been announced. It will still tear through the back field but will now be closer to the tap at the end of the yard and possibly on a higher embankment before disappearing into a cut and cover tunnel that will see the cottages above the railway bridge in Wendover being demolished before it appears again on the outskirts of the village. We have had the first visit from the HS2 Nature Conservation Unit to assess wildlife. Needless to say some were deemed more important than others. They didn’t get invited in for tea! If you fancy a good chuckle download the route map from