Balloon Repair Station

Easy News Update 01.09.12

Gordon Bennett, its that time again.
Stars of this year’s GB Team are novices John Rose and Chris Wood. Relative newcomers to the sport they are up against some tough competition that’s for sure but we have great hopes that between them they’ll ensure the next GB (Gordon Bennett not Great Britain) will launch from Essex Olympic Stadium. Now that would be so cool. The launch, weather dependent of course is planned for 2200hrs local on September 1st. There is a balloon meet going on throughout the following week ending on the 8th September. You can follow the balloon’s tracker, in fact all the trackers by going to Last year we followed it and I have to say it was more exciting than the equestrian events at the Olympics. John Rose is a plasterer extraordinaire and runs The Oxford Balloon Company. Having run his own Ride Business for many years Chris Wood now operates a Virgin Franchise operating in Essex and is recovering from a particularly nasty bout of cancer. They will be flying as GBR-2 in a proper gas balloon D-OCFT. Team GBR-1 are flying a complicated Cameron G-CGOZ which did quite well last time out coming 3rd, is again being flown by that hard-liner David Templeman-Adams with Simon Carey as his co-pilot this year. Rumour control suggest the launch will be on Sunday with the balloons heading down across the Alps across France and Spain and possibly to Portugal. The one with the tache is Rosey the one in the cool as chips gas balloonist pose below is Chris. Good luck chaps. for the tracking link

Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett. Ebnat-Kappel, Toggenburg, Switzerland. The Gas Balloon Race. Held in Switzerland because a Swiss Team won last but one time. We had a Toggenburg goat once, it was, for a goat, OK.

Black Horse Mobwell Great Missenden – great news
Good news for the Black Horse at last. It has a new landlord who has now signed a lease and is currently chucking a heap of money and most of it into a skip in the carpark. For the next few weeks it will be closed while it gets a major refurb and scrubdown. We have finally managed to cut the field and there are plans to widen the entrance. Apart from a day or so when this is going to happen the field is open for flying but the pub sadly not until re-opening night. The propane tank is still reliant on a genny for the moment. Weather permitting a fly-out to celebrate the re-opening could be in order.

Grass Roots Long Finals
Just a reminder that the Grass Roots Meet is coming up the first available slot will be the weekend of the 7th, 8th and 9th September. Having failed to get sponsorship from the BBAC this year Ultramagic’s GB agent Richard Penney stepped in with a very generous sponsorship promise. Despite being sponsored by a manufacturer they are promising that the spirit of the meet will not be compromised. News is just in that Paul Dickinson has put up the first trophy which will be known as the Freespirit Trophy.

This is a year of Thirties for Paul. It is Paul’s 30th year of working in the hot air balloon business and coincides with Anthony, his son’s 30th birthday and he also attended his first balloon meeting 30 years ago this year, Dick Wirth’s Norwich Meet.

Paul explained, ‘I believe that The Grass Roots Meeting emulates the style and spirit of that meeting. As this year is a sort of anniversary and celebration of ballooning for me I wanted to support the Grass Roots meeting in a very personal way. I am therefore donating a trophy to the event this year. It is a silver cup and has the base engraved – “GRASS ROOTS FREESPIRIT TROPHY”. “Freespirit Balloons” is the name that I chose to trade under as a balloon consultant. after being pushed out of my position as managing director at the end of Sky Balloons 12 years ago. I continue to trade as Freespirit Balloons to this day. The expression ‘Freespirit’ illustrates my whole feeling about the experience and joy of ballooning. I believe that the Grass Roots meeting emulates this feeling with a back to basics attitude towards ballooning with an emphasis on the flying, the socialising as well as caring for the land and the farmers. I do believe that this type of meeting is what ballooning is all about and I congratulate the Grass Roots team for being so persistent and determined in ensuring that the meeting continues. May it continue to grow from strength to strength!’

Nice one Paul.

The meet will go if the weather is looking good. If it isn’t it will get rolled on to the following weekend. The Long Range is looking a bit promising so we will not be going on the Great Airship Moped Run if it goes ahead. To get all the details of the Meet and whether its on or off check the website

Sticky Mickey’s moped
Welcome to the Old and Rusty Club Mike Glue. He kindly sent us a picture of his old 1948 Norman Autocycle he restored a few years ago. Sadly it is now sold and was replaced by a 1968 Lambretta SX150 which, by all accounts, was not quite so reliable so has now gone as well! These days he zooms about on a 2003 Vespa. Nice on Mike.

If memory serves the Norman Autocycle had a Villiers Junior engine it. Norman’s were originally a Kent based enamelling and metal plating company but soon became a very successful frame manufacturer, initially famous for their exceptional bike frames. Their first ‘factory’ was set up in Charles and Fred Norman’s garden shed in the suburbs of Ashford just after the end of WWI. One claim to aviation fame is that as Fred, a fighter pilot in the First World War, presented Guy Gibson of Dambuster Raids with a special lightweight motorcycle for him to ride around RAF Scampton, 617 squadron’s base. Their most well-known moped was the Norman Nippy and Jane had one of them for a while before she had a car. Norman became part of the Tube Investments group and the Ashford factory closed in 1962 on the retirement of Charles and Fred in about 1962. Raleigh marketed the Norman brand for a while but it was a badge-engineered Raleigh machine built by Motorbecane in France. And that as they was that.

Then just as we about to go to press we get a picture of the Lambretta in a state of deadness after the ignition failed. Well I rest my case, Go Rusty for Reliability, not rusty, but well rusty. That’s why in days of yore the Mods normally broke down. Just watch Pyschodelia if you need proof.

Bumper Sticker
Spotted by Graham Holtam of Holtams Balloon Fame.

Another Rusty member – Steve Farrant’s Auster
Now we are rocking. Old & Rusty Club rules. Steve Farrant sent us a piccie of his Auster. This immediately qualifies him as a full member. We grew up with Tiger Moths and Austers. My dad flew both and as kids we always went along. There was just enough room for the two of us to share the rear lapstrap. Later on I got to fly one and what great little aeroplanes they are. The one we flew had a Gipsy Major engine in it much the same as the Tiger Moth, an inverted in-line four cylinder. Steve’s has a much more modern Lycombing hence the smily face. Like many Steve’s was formally an RAF one number TJ 534 and now its registered G-AKSY. The one we flew was G-AJAC built in 1946 which ended up going to Devon I think.