Balloon Repair Station

No White Horses just blue skies – PRBA Thirsk Meet

1 Thirsk launch We had sun, we had film crews, we had flights, we had a solo and check out, we had carry outs, and we had cake. All in all it was a thoroughly pleasant, active weekend with good times logged in the memory bank, writes Elaine Smith.

We had planned a lot of things to be crammed into this weekend so it was a blessing 2 G-OJENwhen the sun shone, and boy did it shine (almost as bright as my nose is doing right now!). We had 13 balloons booked in, with a further one added over the weekend – 14 balloons in total.

Whilst the balloons were inflating on Saturday morning, we had a lovely lady called Chele Willow walking around and in and amongst the balloons, and singing; she was filming the music video for her band ‘Borderline Crossing’ and the song ‘Flame’ written by her husband. Chele and her cameraman/producer, Roger Greasby, of Born in a Barn Studios, eventually got their film in the can after a flight on Sunday morning – we can’t wait to see it – watch this space and follow Phil Traviss’ lead and download the song – only 79p! 

3 Harry G-YUMMSaturday evening was flyable which gave us a bit of a dilemma with the buffet, so we decided to hold some back for the late-comers, but despite being worried that we wouldn’t have enough food to go around, we had lots spare which we sadly dare not save due to the high temperatures of the day. The buffet had been organised by Jan Mitchinson and was amazing value for money at only 3½p a head, or thereabouts, even more so as we panicked slightly as more and more people turned up on site without letting us know they were coming by filling in the registration form, we had underestimated the numbers but the caterer had over catered so a good result in the end. Please fill in a registration form if you intend to attend a meet, the fee is only for the balloons, but we need names and numbers for safety records, and so we know who is on site. The cake was a lovely little 3D model balloon with a little white duck in the basket, I had mentioned that the event was the White Horse meet, so perhaps that was misheard to ‘duck’ somehow, the cake was surrounded by cupcakes decorated with little balloons or the PRBA logo. Mike Bellamy, as the longest reigning (I didn’t want to say oldest) member kindly cut the cake for us and this was then distributed at the survivors debrief and prize giving on Sunday lunchtime.

4 night glow G-PIES G-BDSFMike Bellamy and Tony Greensides brought along two old envelopes (G-PIES and G-BDSF repectfully) which were seen in the skies of PRBA meets many moons ago and both of these were inflated after dark, glowing beautifully for us all. Thank you to the chaps and their crews. 

Sunday morning was another perfect morning but with a different direction so no onslaughts to the White Horse this time, and we did see a large number of balloons take off heading south, including Neil Beckwith on his solo. 5 Neil Beckwith G-ROXI soloAfter a long retrieve, he returned to base to spread the news that he had been successful and was going to hot foot it to the CAA at Gatwick on Monday morning to try and prise his new PPL out of them quickly.

Chele’s film might have been in the can, but her retrieve wasn’t quite that easy. 6 topcliffe castle motte and baileyAlex landed in what he thought was a bald patch in Maize, next to a gate, but the gate turned out to be disused and the Maize turned out to be Miscanthus Grass (also containing Grass snakes, yikes!!!). Miscanthus Grass is better known as Elephant Grass and likely to grow up to 3m tall. Fortunately the tallest we encountered in the 1km carry out was about 2m high – our team nickname for Metz is the Fukawi Tribe, and it couldn’t have been more appropriate with us leaping up in the air to see where we were going, ask me for an explanation if you cannot make the connection! Andrew Davidson organised a search and rescue party for us and turned up with lots of lovely people to help the carry out – and brought water! What a lifesaver under the relentless sun!

7 now that's a carry outThank you Andrew, and everyone who so very kindly turned up to help.

The White Horse trophy was hotly contested, so much so that mysterious pins were appearing on the leader board…. we caught the culprit, who cannot be named but it wasn’t Martin even though he got a clip around the ear in a case of mistaken identity, sorry ‘our kid’! That aside, the final (and true) accolade went to Craig Westwood flying Paul Wade’s lovely new balloon, and he received the new White Horse perpetual salver and also the usual keepsake glass trophy which now means that both he and wife Claire have one each! 8 Paul G-SMILQuite at the opposite end of the list of landing sites was Paul Wade, again in his own lovely balloon, who won the booby prize for landing the furthest away from the White Horse – a box of sugar lumps was his prize so he could try and tempt the horse closer to him next time!

Other prizes went to Neil Beckwith for his triumph at the Henge Hoppers meet with Phil Traviss, where he was officially awarded the Henge Hoppers Perpetual Trophy. Neil Beckwith again was given a bottle of wine for completing his check out. The Green Hills (Greensides and Hills)were the winners of the quiz with a score of 28 out of 41, not so far away after all.

9 John Russon G-BUIZBottles of wine went to Claire Westwood and John Russon for very kindly flying three of the Thirsk Athletic Club people; Mark Terry, Sal and Andy Bilaney. We use their facilities free of charge so a balloon flight is the least we can do. Mark owns the lovely ‘Cafe Arabica’ in the town square and he treated the Russon crew to breakfast after the flight. Sal and Andy loved it so much they have joined our club, along with Ken and Pat Booth, so we have gained four new members over this weekend. 

Thank you everyone who helped make the weekend so successful, thank you. Onwards and upwards! 
Elaine and Alex Smith. group photo

Thirsk spotters guide

Judy G-COSY Photos courtesy of Steve Smith, Chele Willow, Grant Hall, Roger, George Irving. Pennine Region Balloon Club’s site