Balloon Repair Station

EB News 01.05.12

EB News 01.05.12

Anthony Smith back on dry land-Big congratulations to Anthony Smith
In Part Two of his attempt to recreate the Atlantic crossing on his raft An-tiki, raising money for WaterAid, Anthony Smith (President of the British Balloon and Airship Club and all-round famous person) has now finally landed on Eleuthera in The Bahamas having departed the Caribbean Island of St Maarten on Saturday 6 April 2012. The message came in on 30.04.12 .

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Following the publication of his book ‘Survived’ Anthony Smith set out last year to recreate the voyage of two sailors who survived seventy days at sea, ship-wrecked in a ‘Jolly Boat’ after their merchant ship the SS Anglo Saxon was attacked by Widder, a German raider disguised as a merchantman, in 1940. Of the seven original survivors only two, Tapscott and Widdicombe, eventually landed on the island of Eleuthera (Greek for freedom) alive. Widdicombe was the first to recover but, tragically, on his return to Britain his ship was torpedoed and he was lost.

That first voyage, lasting nine weeks and covering an astonishing 2600 miles, took him from the Canary Islands to St Maarten in the Caribbean, somewhat shy of his hoped for destination Eleuthera. In a final attempt to reach the island he set sail again from St Maarten on the 6th April and, having covered another 800 miles, was tantalisingly close to Eleuthera. Fearing he would miss the island a second time it was decided to hove to, anchor overnight and arrange a tow in the morning, however, clearly the spirits had different ideas and during the night An-tiki slipped its leash and landed Anthony and his trusty crew on the very beach his heroes had ended up on all those years ago. A very fitting and well-deserved ending to a great adventure for Anthony and his Team. For the whole story check out the An-tiki HQ website run by Robin Batchelor. . For a good summary of the facts surrounding the original survivors voyage see or better still buy the book! Anybody want to buy a well-travelled raft?

Cameron’s confusion solution
With cost and supplies of the Sherwood Pressure Relief Valve causing problems for flight cylinders fitted with a curved diptube beneath the valve Camerons have produced a brass adaptor so now the cheaper and more plentiful Omeca valve can be fitted. The adaptor requires fitting first using PTFE tape and the approved sealant to the same torque setting as the PRV. Once in the PRV can be fitted, again using the correct torque setting (see Maintenance Manual). Standard Omeca PRVs must not be fitted to Colt or T&C cylinders without the adaptor as the spring assembly fouls the internal diptube causing partial opening of the valve. This does become quite apparent when tested!

Youtube chuckles
‘Pilots, nobody’s perfect’ is a collection of unfortunate aircraft incidents captured on camera (stills) with quite a few shots that will make you chuckle. Its titles are in French but worry not. Its worth watching for the closing picture.

Wendover Parrot
Making news everywhere (apparently) is our very own village parrot, or parasqueak to be more accurate. Sounding like a squeaky wheelbarrow it has been around for a while now but recently it seems to have moved to our end of the village. Taking an early morning stroll up the village to collect my abandoned pickup on Saturday I spotted it in the gloomy drizzle sitting on a telephone line giving the eye to a local pigeon. It has been described as a bit of a thug when it comes to wood pigeons so its OK with me. If you look on the web it appears in all the lost and found listings. including ‘’!

Old ‘uns abound
Its easy to take it for granted that the modern hot air balloon has only been around, in numbers, since the seventies and although the BBM&L take great pride in rescuing prime examples of the more notable ones however, some older balloons are still flying well and still providing fun for their owners.
So it comes as no surprise that in the past week or so we have had a couple of older Cameron examples in. G-BHHN is a jolly fine Cameron V77 (serial number 549) notable by the four long streamers that hang from the equator. Supplied to the Itchen Valley Balloon Group in 1979 it remains in the care of Peter Gooch. Built in crinkly fabric it has 400 hours on it and although the colours are not as sharp as they once were it still flies well and has already had a couple of flights this year. Also in the Gooch stable is G-BLPP which despite the registration is actually older that BHHN. Another Cameron V77, serial number 432, (actually owned by his better half Roena) it dates from September 1978. This balloon has quite a pedigree having been supplied new to Les Purfield hence the ‘Leslie Peter Purfield’ registration. Les was incredibly famous (and still is) in the competition world having been Meet Director for many an event both here and abroad. Some time ago Pete Bish replaced an upper row of panels and although starting to show its age it is still quite a pretty balloon and is up for sale.

Marathon Success for balloonists
Just to prove that there is life outside ballooning, balloonists Lenny and Helen Vaughan successfully completed the Milton Keynes Marathon held on Sunday 29th. This was their first marathon and the weather was less than kind to them with serious rain and high winds so their achievement was doubly spectacular (or should that be quadruply?). Helen was thrilled and declared ‘You cannot imagine how good the first drink in 17 weeks was!’ Lenny was looking forward to the fishing season re-opening in June. Fair play to them no doubt we’ll catch up at the Coombe Hill run on 3rd June unless he’s fishing that is!

WheelTug – no more clunk!
There are still a few exciting defining moments when travelling by air. The dull thud as the cargo doors are shut, the clunkity bonk as the tug hitched up and then the rising whine of engine start up as you are pushed back, unless of course you are at some remote airfield onboard Ryanair who just do a uie and roart off. Of course that doesn’t always happen but in the future, tugs pushing aircraft back and start-up at the terminal may well become things of the past. Wheel Tug has been under development for a few years now by the Gibraltar-based design company and the news is in that Alitalia will become the first to use it on their Airbus 320s. The system is also being developed for the Boeing 737.

The system is a built-in ground handling system utilising the patented WheelTug electric drive system consisting of two small electric motors (Chorus Meshcons) bolted to the nose wheel with the Auxiliary Power Unit (the smelly engine in the tail) providing the zoobies. This means that the aircraft can be independent of all ground handling with savings of up to 80% in fuel used taxiing to and from the terminal and improving the environment around the terminals immensly. It is going be strange rolling back to the terminal with engines shut-down! Shame really as it was always quite exciting to see if the pilot could get the thing off the runway at the first exit to save fuel or throttling up as they pulled onto the runway for a quick launch into the wild blue yonder. I expect they’ll be a strike by tug drivers next! For some interesting videos of the unit in operation and cockpit procedures during the testing have a look at