Balloon Repair Station

Great British Long Jump 2012 – RB reports

It was in 1984 that Robin Batchelor was sat eating breakfast with fellow commercial pilots after yet another woefully short flight out of a showground and down into the car park that he challenged them to see who could fly the furthest in one flight after the end of the season when the thermals died down a bit. So the Long Jump was born and the month of October was ideal for such flights with 11 hours of daylight and the chance of some decent winds. Anthony Smith was elected judge and he ensured it developed into the popular challenge it has now become.

Over the years there have been some astonishing flights up and down and across the country even some across the Irish Sea. Mike Forster achieved 303 miles in 2000 although it is not the longest hot air flight in UK. Julian Nott and Colin Prescot once flew from Edinburgh to Colchester during the night in a balloon using paraffin as fuel. All Long Jump flights are memorable but some more so, like 1994 when Andy Elson and Stephen Budd flew 274 miles from Glasgow to Ross on Wye – much of the flight being over the sea.

Most pilots are happy to just fly further than they have ever flown before. Others are more ambitious and really spend time planning a flight which avoids controlled airspace but still gives them a good long flight.

With the run of bad weather and poor ground conditions not showing any signs of abating it wasn’t that surprising that the turn out for the 2012 Long Jump was down. Add to this the present economic situation and price of fuel then it is all the more commendable that anyone managed to fly.

So, writes Robin, just 8 entries this year and 3 of those were unable to fly on the October days they had free. So the remaining 5 claimed a total of 662 miles between them assuming Jon Francis and Dave Sillence flew 10miles on their leisurely flight. Cumulative time aloft amounted to 27 hours 52 minutes to cover their distances.

4th place goes to Andy Holly & Andy Collett in a 105 who covered 114 miles in 7hrs 45mins. Their maximum height was 9,995 ft and average speed 16mph. A Red Bull stunt pane flew around them and took pictures. There’s even a video on the link at the bottom.

3rd place goes to Matt Wiltshire & Ed Chapman with 117 miles in a 105 taking just over 5 hours. Average speed was 20knots and maximum altitude was 10,000 ft. Bristol ATC were very helpful and friendly and routed an EasyJet below them and a RyanAir above them. The female controller at Brize was very inquisitive and Ed thinks has a touch of naughtiness in her voice. We expect an update! Coventry on the other hand took a more serious attitude.

2nd place are Richard Penney & Chris Freeman who flew 176 miles in 6hrs 15 mins with an average speed of 25 knots and maximum altitude of 6 thousand ft. in a 90. They charmed the Welsh farmer at take off who delighted in offering them a perfect field and when the Northamptonshire farmer learned they had flown from The Brecon Beacons he asked, “ Did you take off today?”

Thus the winners are Rob Bayly and Andrew Gregory who flew their 105 245.8 miles in 7hr and 26mins with a maximum speed of 70.8mph and maximum altitude 12,000 feet. All these figures were produced by mission computer specialist Matt Bayly with MotionX tracker on his iPad whilst the pilots were nourished by flap jacks made by Andrew’s son Pete.

Their report’s theme is space flight – inspired by Felix Baumgartner’s flight to the edge of space – and I think it’s the first time I have seen Hysplit mentioned in Long Jump reports. A very useful accurate met tool which I first learned about during the 2010 Gordon Bennett race from Bristol.

As usual, the reports are full of useful information which will help future Long Jumpers. Good communication with air traffic controllers is followed throughout and modern gizmos make navigation a lot easier and can usefully prove that you did not infringe airspace if needed later on.

Careful planning meant the winners launched at 10.54 and enjoyed a stand up landing 20 minutes after sunset.

Congratulations to all, and I look forward to next year! Robin Batchelor. Founder and Judge. neat film and reports are here. Click on the ‘read the report’ bits. for details of the 2013 competition.