Balloon Repair Station

News 03.08.13.

New online CAA form causes unscheduled laptop flight
The new Civil Aviation Authority’s Certificate of Airworthiness Online Form was the prime cause for my computer to make an unscheduled flight down the garden the other day. It is certainly true that laptops can be thrown further than the older desktops especially if the discus method is used. I suppose its only natural that there will be teething problems but lack of response from some CAA departments, especially Finance who only ever respond when they want money, doesn’t help. Having semi-successfully completed two online applications (which aren’t actually as more forms and copies of stuff still have to be sent in, although they do say that you can scan them) when we tried for a hat-trick we couldn’t even get the form to download so resorted to completing the old form and sending that in. In fairness a very helpful chap called Samuel Marklow called and many matters were discussed. Most annoying trait on the form is the inability to enter ‘not applicable’. We found stuffing a zero into those box field things allowed you to move on. Helpfully if you search about for long enough if you are having difficulties with the system, or feel the need to make the odd suggestion the CAA invite you to ‘please contact a member of the A and A administration team as soon as possible, by phone on 01293 768374, or by e-mail at between the hours of 08:30 and 17:00 Monday to Friday.

On a lighter note the new application form for the first issue of a CofA especially for balloons should be available now. Fetchingly called ‘COMPLIANCE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION FOR THE ISSUE OF AN EASA CERTIFICATE OF AIRWORTHINESS AND AIRWORTHINESS REVIEW CERTIFICATE FOR A NEW EASA BALLOON’ it seems pretty OK although other forms and bits of paper are also needed. We are currently trying to put together a definitive list of what forms are required and what you need to do to apply for the various bits of paper to make your balloon safe to fly. We’ll put it in the Pages bit under ‘Airworthiness’

A Work of Art – The New Cameron Illustrated Parts Catalogue out
Cameron parts catalogueHats off to Cameron Balloons who have produced the definitive illustrated catalogue for all parts burner and cylinder components (with a bit on inflation fans thrown in at the end). If you have ever wonderwd what the difference is between a C2 and a Magnum burner then this is the place foe you. The catalogue is a long awaited update to an earlier A4 catalogue they did some years ago for a few of the Cameron burners. Very good exploded diagrams along with photos of the burner type and pictures of the idividual components means that between the customer and Camerons’ very knowledgable sales staff you now stand a better than average chance of getting what you want.
The new Illustrated Parts Catalogue is available to view or download via the Cameron Balloons website
There is also a low resolution version (3mb) available for those with restrictive like really naff standard BT internet connections.

Now there’s a thing – Queen’s Cup revised
Hot topic amongst visiting customers is still the Queen’s Cup. According to the latest news from the British Balloon & Airship club, The Queen’s Cup Committee have listened to all the feedback provided by balloonists and are pleased to announce that they are canceling the entry fee requirement for the first 25 entrants. Competitors will still be required to register with a returnable deposit of £50 for the event. The entries are now open until August 31st and places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Teams wishing to enter should note the minimum 50 hour requirements for the pilot and must be available on the first two weekends of October in case of weather “roll over”. Unsurprisingly the event will start from Bristol. Entry is only open to members of the BBAC and the latest version of the rules are on the BBAC website but competitors are asked to note that there will be minor changes to these rules, probably only to items 2.2 Pilots licence and experience reduced to just 50hrs P1 at date of launch & 2.3 Entry Fee showing the reduced costs and reduced social events. So, they will have 25 entrants then?

Latest aim it appears is that competitors will launch from Bristol or somewhere nearby and fly as far as they can on the Friday night. Next morning you fly from where you landed or any other point closer to the original launch site and fly again as far as you can. You do this all weekend and the the winner is the one furthest from the original launch point measured in a straight line we think! The August 2013 Aerostat edition may have information relating to fees, but be advised the latest notice supersedes the information there that the entry fee includes social events and that competitors will get £100 when they turn up. Let’s hope its not an easterly. Muddle on then. Any questions should be emailed to

Tragic Accident involving an Inflation Fan
Following reports that Monday July 13th that a woman’s scarf had been dragged into an inflation fan she has now tragically died from her injuries which had been described as ‘critical’ at the time of the accident. It is thought that Steph Bernoth was seriously injured when the scarf she was wearing was drawn through the mesh guard of a cold-air inflation fan while she was preparing to climb into the basket. The sudden force to her neck left her with critical injuries and she died in hospital a week later. The accident happened about five miles south of Alice Springs in Australia.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigators have visited the Alice Springs balloon operator, Outback Ballooning, to conduct initial enquires. The ATSB stated that the balloon operator has now modified its procedures relating to the movement of passengers who are near cold-air inflation fans, and have alerted staff to related hazards, including securing loose items. A preliminary report on the incident will be published in August following further investigations. Police have since set up a crime scene at the accident site and will also investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. Pilot Jason Livingston had only purchased Outback Ballooning a few days prior to the accident and said he was “gutted” that a customer had been critically injured in the freak accident.

The Ultramagic Friendship Balloon
Ultramagic friendship balloonFollowing the Ultramagic International Innovation Awards when project section winner Andrew Holly from the UK proposed a Friendship Balloon to promote ballooning. The idea was that it would travel the world and be flown by different pilots and sure enough it has now had its first flight, as planned, on the morning of Saturday 13 July at the press launch event of the Igualada European Balloon Festival. Piloted by Ultramagic’s Carles Lladó-Costa it was then flown by other pilots during the event. Josep Lladó-Costa will be the final pilot in 4 years time! The adventure of this balloon has now begun!

The aim of the “Friendship Balloon” project is to develop worldwide friendship through ballooning uniting pilots and balloon followers of all nationalities in a common goal and interest whilst raising a large sum of money for a nominated international charity organisation. The special light weight Tekno 70 travel pack “Friendship Balloon” will travel the world visiting as many countries as possible but with a different invited pilot on every flight. Over a four year period 300 to 400 flights around the world are planned with the amazing achievement of never being flown by the same pilot twice, apart from Carles who will pilot it for its final flight, thus almost certainly establishing a world record!

Pilots will soon be invited to fly the balloon by entering a request on the Ultramagic Friendship Balloon website:

Wise words indeed-fire risk
Phil Dunnington, Chairman of the British Balloon and Airship has reminded pilots and crews of the risk of fire during the dry (mainly) period. It is quite clear that the spells of unusual fine dry weather now mean that large areas of the countryside are very dry and the accidental risk of unwittingly starting a fire is increasing the drier it gets. Yes well it may have been riaing a bit more in the past few days but the trend is dry and the harvest isn’t that far away so a few reminders are quite appropriate. Phil advises that although traditionally pilots are made aware, through the pilot-light shut-off training procedure, of the dangers of fires on landing in long grass or cut stubble a rather different risk is particularly prominent in UK at present after the longest and hottest dry period for many years.

Following a near-disastrous personal experience in the Balkans last year and a (non-ballooning) fire observed in recent days I would warn pilots particularly of the dangers of inflation on areas of short, compact, dry grass. Such areas as lawns look inviting because they are kept short, but their underlying growth and root structure is dense and fibrous. It does not take direct contact from the burner flame to set this material alight – radiant heat is sufficient – and once started the fire runs almost unnoticed semi-underground. Precautions should include a combination of:
1) Using the scoop or a natural-fibre/nomex mat on the area between the burner and the grass surface. (though these can also mask subsequent smouldering, and lifting the scoop or mat can re-introduce oxygen).
2) Carry canisters or 5L drinks bottles filled with water. These should be used to dampen dry grass in the inflation area before lighting the burner and could also be used if fire breaks out. This has the advantage of being a ‘no-cost’ solution.

Please note though that the use of normal balloon fire extinguishers to control grass fires is not recommended (unless you have nothing else, of course) as their coverage is quite limited as is their duration.

If fire does break out around your basket, having followed the ‘BBAC Training ‘Emergency Procedures’:
1) Switch the fan off immediately – it is keeping the fire supplied with oxygen and spreading it.
2) Remember that fire can spread in all directions, even upwind, so ensure your cylinders are not in the line of burning. It is easy to be distracted trying to save your envelope from damage.
3) Attack the leading edge of the fire first to contain it. The isolated patches in the middle of the burning area are more likely to run out of fuel.
4) Check carefully for hidden pockets of smouldering grass which can easily relight.
5) If fire persists for more than a couple of minutes call the emergency services.
Wise words indeed.

Rob Cross trailer for sale
Rob cross trailer 1Well it finally happened. We failed a trailer at the annual inspection. Rob Cross’s White Knight Dream Team Trailer has finally been deemed not really fit for purpose. Having taken the news on the chin he shot off to Pete Bish’s and came back with a very fetching new number into which his kit fitted snug as a bug. Old Faithful is now rather unceremoniously outside the workshop but we may be inclined to move it in case anyone thinks it is ours! Admittedly its very tatty and not the best looking box on wheels but its essentially sound with a special, modified by Tim Wilkinson, removable tailgate that will trap your fingers. rob cross trailer2Sort of made of wood and aluminium, but not to Airstream spec, it failed the inspection on the coupling as the front bush in the drawbar assembly seems to have gone partially on holiday. No spare tyre and needs love. Has a proper beam axle. Amazingly it doesn’t seem to leak and tows well if not noisily. You’ll squeeze a ’77 in. He told us to weigh it in but it could make a cheap trailer if you don’t have much pride. There is a rather fetching old balloon depicted on tailgate (Bishy knows what it is!) which may be a Banksy but unlikely. Check out the For Sale bit for details. It would tow home but make no mistake it needs love.

Tony Hill of the Wells G-PINT Balloon
G-PINT BBM&LFrom Chiltern Region’s Martin Griffiths. ‘It is with great sadness that I learnt today that my old boss and friend for over 30 years Tony Hill lost his fight against cancer. Not sure how many members will remember Tony as he hasn’t been a member for many years and is not to be confused with another balloon pilot also called Tony Hill. Tony was a balloon pilot for many years and, as far as I am aware, was the first person in the world to do all of his training and checkout in a special shape hot air balloon which was G-PINT (Beer Barrel Balloon) and was one of the best pilots I have ever flown with. My early years in ballooning consisted of going all round the country with Tony and G-PINT and a ‘65 G-WELS and I have memories to last a life time.’ Our sympathies go out to all his friends and family.
The Cameron-built Beer Barrel G-PINT has only recently retired as the BBM&L flagship and remains in their care.

Splash and Crash
Whoops there’s getting it wrong and getting it wrong in front of a camera. Flashed around the globe was footage taken of a an unfortunate accident that occurred on 24th July in a lake at Almere, 21 miles from Amsterdam. Amateur footage shows the balloon descend into the lake and then float towards the shore and finally deflating across a road. It was reported that eleven people were in the balloon at the time and two people were taken to hospital with minor injuries. Although the Coast Guard sent two lifeboats to Almere, they did not have to assist as people were able to make there own way out of the water. The cause of the accident remains unclear but police and aviation inspection authorities have commenced an investigation.

What the EASA is this all about then?
To keep you all on your toes with the unknown and unlikely here’s just a couple of items from the ever-growing EASA BS list of intended and proposed whotsits that appear on a daily basis. Maybe they ought to employ a plain-speak type person so we can understand what they are on about. One wonders how much a year these people are paid and if there are any vacancies?

First off please note that NPA-2013-15 “Update of Part-MED (Annex IV to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011) and Update of Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material to Part-MED (ED Decision 2011/015/R) ” is now open for consultation on EASA website. See
Then there was, NPA-2013-14 “Safety Key Performance Indicators (SKPIs) (ATM performance IR)” is now open for consultation on EASA website. See: To place comments on either please logon to or for further information contact Rulemaking Process Support at

Thumbs up for Adrian Brown
Big ones to Adrian Brown who checked out from Sackville on 14th July with Dave Court in G-BXDR a (bright yellow) Lindstrand 77 which, Dave reported, flies like new. The flight from Grass Roots venue, Sackville Lodge ended up at Wood End, just North of Bedford. With lots of big crop fields to do loads of approaches to by the time it came to the final landing Adrian had his eye well in a plonked it down on a track at the side of a rape field. “A good safe flight”, said Dave adding,”This steady spell of weather is making all the difference, it is giving pilots under training the chance to plan a check flight and a warm up flight with a couple of days notice.” Well done again to Adrian.

Did you miss the Most under-rated event of the year?
thornborough mapElaine and Alex Smith didn’t and reported that Pennine Region’s Henge Hoppers Meet was fab although they only had three balloons – G-BVDB – Mike Bellamy and Steve Hollingsworth, theirs G-OATV, and Neil Beckwith (brother of Geoff Beckwith – one of our founder members and now CPL in Kenya) who has G-ROXI and was hoping to do his check out flight on the Sunday morning with Dave Court. The weather stopped play on Sunday sadly.
From the start to the finish they had a weekend of fun, sun, laughs and a very warm welcome from Robert, his family and the staff at Camp Hill. Not only is it an amazing place to visit but it is clearly a very happy place too. Friday evening was a bit too breezy for a leisurely flight, so the flying was put on hold for relaxation and chatting in the evening sun. Saturday dawned and saw three balloons take to the air in ‘Ode to Joy’ and chasing ‘Springtime’, flown by Mike Bellamy and Steve Hollingsworth, and ‘Roxi’, flown by Neil Beckwith and Phil Traviss. All three balloons were en route to the Thornborough Henges with the challenge to fly over and land the closest to the central Henge of the three, Neil and Phil triumphing and being the first winners of the new perpetual ‘Henge Hoppers’ trophy. Sunday morning was less than perfect and a naughty shower came through and stopped play scuppering Neil beckwith’s planned check flight. The PRBA cannot believe their luck in finding this outstanding venue and next year is a go-go, they’ll be back. Want to know more? To hear about the Hobbit huts hidden in the trees, the Yurts in Yurtshire, the water Zorbing, the quad bikes, the awesome Aerial Extreme, the crashed plane on an island? You’ll just have to read the Pennine Region’s Scoop newslaetter or, lucky for us, their article on it, ‘Henge Hoppers Meet – Yurts and Zorbing included’.