Balloon Repair Station

News 03.11.13

Jack Klein
1 jack KleinIt is with great sadness that we learnt that Jack Klein died following a car accident in Hawaii on Tuesday 22nd October. Apart from being a brilliant and very talented all round good bloke he was also well known for his very lightweight home-built balloons which he flew throughout the world and more recently his Klein fans, designed especially for the smaller balloons. We first met him in Alaska along with his lovely missus Carol. They were the kindest and most perfect of hosts, even arranging an earthquake within half an hour of our arrival at the Alaskan House That Jack Built. With Carol working on the very chilly oil rigs on the North Slope of Alaska they decided the time had come to have somewhere warmer to live so Jack set about building a Hawaiian House that Jack Built which he had almost finished. Jack visited us whenever he was in England, more often than not appearing as if by magic in our local pub, usually ahead of us, where he enjoyed a pint or three of ESB. Then we discovered that he was a fan of Mountain and he’d actually seen Iron Butterfly live in concert so our already high regard for him increased many-fold. 2 jack Klein alsaka balloonHis attention to detail in his lightweight balloons ran from the envelope design to the basket and if it could be made lighter he managed to achieve it. His lovely Alaska balloon travelled the world often in the company of Mr Blaser. He was passionate about ballooning especially in matters safety and apart from being a US balloon inspector he set up business in Switzerland inspecting and proof pressure testing cylinders as a BBAc Inspector. In true Nantucket Sleighride tradition we have dedicated our Lighter than Air? – You’re having a right giraffe! which is elsewhere, to him. I think he would have approved. Our heart-felt sympathies go out to Carol and all those that had the privilege of knowing him. We will miss him big time.

America’s Challenge Cup Winners go a long way
9 Peter Cuneo gas balloonThis year’s 18th America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race which is held as part of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta was won by husband and wife team Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke. The competition is a distance race and this year the winning team managed to cover 1,429 miles (2299.79 km), staying aloft for 60 hours 19 minutes with the landing near White River, Ontario in Canada after an overnight, lengthy transit of Lake Superior. The win is their third in the America’s Challenge, a feat bettered only by the late Richard Abruzzo.

Second place went to Phil Bryant and Andy Cayton 966.07 miles who landed in Minnisota, third were Mark Sullivan and Cheri White with a very close 959.01 miles, fourth was J. Michael Wallace and Kevin Brielmann at 543.08 miles with John Kugler and Bert Padelt acheieving 257.87 miles.3 dave baker All the teams this year were American. The America’s Challenge Cup tracking site is at Meanwhile, in the Albuquerque event proper-like Dave Baker managed to win something for flying to a target or something and not in his balloon. His message was rather confused, something we put down the an intake of Mossberg perhaps.

One Man met in the Pub? – no fear, they all turned up
Dreadful weather meant the ever popular One Man Meet got completely washed and blown out this time round. Sadly the weather forecast got progressively worse the closer the weekend came with just the merest of a chance for Sunday morning but alas the clear still night gave way to wind and rain. Despite the weather there was, as ever, a very good turnout and all the local attractions (and probably pubs) were visited. Highlight for most was a trip to Wellesbourne to watch the Vulcan (XM655) thunder up and down the runway. Just because no one got a balloon out didn’t mean that the prizes stayed in the box, winners were, Fearless Footprint to Kate & George Ibbotson, SuperSonnet (new award) went to the Orchard/Banks Team, very popularily the Cock-Up Trophy was awarded to Ian Chadwick for setting off his hotel alarm coming to briefing. Out-of-the Woodwork went to Ross Powell, nice one Ross with the Wooden Tit going to Edcar Vermeulen who came all the way from Holland. It just goes to show how hardy the One Maners (and ladies) are. A very social and successful meet was the general concensus. Roll on next year and better weather!

In the know – Training Checklists
Get ahead of the game. If you are thinking about going for your Commercial Licence or about to do your first Base and Line Check and you want to know the areas the eager eyed examiner will be concentrating on then download the standard Training Check Form directly from the CAA at and know as much as your examiner.

Andy Kaye buys mansion down under
4 andy's Oz padShock horror, Andy Kaye of Doll Special Shape fame and Westfalia dealer has taken the Kings shilling and set off on an assisted passage ship for Australia last Wednesday. He and his other half popped round for lunch the other week and he told us all about it. As it got quite late I’ve forgotten who he is going to be flying for but think it may have been in Melbourne having gone out there a few months ago to sort out his Australian licence. According to faceache he has already done his first flight and is loving it especially his new pad complete with swimming pool. If you need parts for Westfalia trailers he can still supply them through the wonder of electrical trickery but he won’t be delivering in person. If you need parts or just want to tell him how much you are enjoying the cold and crisp winter days here then he can be contacted on

Last minute trip – Africa Hot Air Balloon Fiesta
11 maasia balloonsIf you’ve found yourself with nothing to do and fancy a trip to the Maasia Mara Game Reserve in Kenya to take part in a Balloon Fiesta then look no further. Prestige Travel Company-Kenya in partnership with Reality PR, a public relations and event management company are organizing the first ever Hot-Air Balloon Festival in Africa. Well I think there maybe a few others but this event will be held at the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve from 6th to 8th December 2013. Kenya’s Maasai Mara game Reserve is the ultimate ballooning destination. Some call it the eighth wonder of the world and is one of the world’s last remaining ecosystems harmonising animal and nature. Ballooning at the Mara is a wonderful, scenic experience with magnificent views of the Mara River, the great migration, herds of elephant, antelope, giraffes feeding from the tree tops (maybe that should be ‘eating the treetops’) and cheetah, leopards, lions hunting and more. The landscape is stunning and free, and the abundant wildlife makes for spectacular viewing from above.

Dawn patrols, Night Glows and fine eating will all be part of the Fiesta. ‘Pilots, crews and spectators from all over the world will come to the Africa Balloon Fiesta-Kenya 2013, alongside Kenyan pilots, crews and spectators. For three days, dozens of colourful balloons will float above the Maasai Mara each morning as the daybreaks over herds of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and as lions and other predators hunt at dawn, giving an unparalleled chance to enjoy a bird’s eye view of this magnificent reserve teeming with animals in their natural habitat. It’s no wonder this visual feast will be Africa’s most photographed event’ say the Organisers. For full details go to or e-mail

Aerophile Aerobar open for business
Fancy a pint of Stella somewhere a tad different well, Aerophile, who make those huge static ride10 aerobar airborne drinks balloons, have come up with a rather novel idea, the Aerobar. It is claimed to be the first flying bar in the world and is located at Futuroscope the second largest amusement park in France. From a commercial point of view, and no doubt helped by the 1.6 million visitors a year that visit Futuroscope, in August alone 10,000 passengers, 12 at a time, bought a drink perched on a bar stool 115 feet up with their feet dangling in the breeze. Attractions in the Park are usually free so the ride is financed by the sale of drinks during the ride. Aerphile have reported that the operating company take an average of $9.55 over the bar per person each lift. Cripes that’s over $100,000 for August and doesn’t include the video, photos and souvenirs that go with such experiences. Right, make mine a double! Have a look at the video taken from a drone at Warning, don’t look down!

Change in Weather Patterns – Met Office moves winter
Darren Hardy at the UK Met. Office, Exeter, has reminded us that the balloon text forecasts are now running to the newly implemented winter schedule, i.e. “Dawn to Midday” and “Midday to Dusk”. Following feedback from balloonists, the “winter schedule” now runs from 16th October to 14th March inclusive (as opposed to when the clocks change to and from BST and GMT). It was all change on Friday 1st November when the changes proposed were finally introduced. Delays meant that the original changeover was missed for which the Met Office apologise but now it is in place it should be a lot more relevant. Although the validity times have changed the actual update times (02:30, 08:30, 14:30, 20:30) remain unchanged under the new scheme. In terms of matching update times to forecast runs, the Met. Office has confirmed that the updates will be as follows:
At 02:30:          forecast for 09:00 (that day) & 15:00 (that day)
At 08:30:          forecast for 15:00 (that day) & 09:00 (next day)
At 14:30:          forecast for 15:00 (that day) & 09:00 (next day)
At 20:30:          forecast for 09:00 (next day) & 15:00 (next day)
Aside from the fact that 09:00Z has replaced 06:00Z, and 15:00Z has replaced 18:00Z, this remains consistent with the summer scheme.

Pennine Region – last knockings for 2013
Well ahead of the game the Pennine Region Balloon Association have already confirmed the dates for the Brass Monkey meet at Rudding Park, the quirky Flying Man of Pocklington Festival and Henge Hoppers Meet (must try and get there) along with the White Horse Meet (report elsewhere from this year’s gathering) and the PRBA Autumn Gold Meet. As for this year the last Pennine Region Balloon Meet of the year is due to be held over the weekend of the 16th and 17th November and based at Linley Hill Airfield, Leven in East Yorkshire where the sadly abandoned Gannet lives. (Hull Aero Club base). Registration for the balloon is £10, and people are free although they would still like you to complete a registration form so they know who are coming and can account for everyone in their safety documentation, and, more importantly, keep pilots informed of the arrangements and activities. Also this weekend is their annual dinner at the Old School House on the Saturday evening. PRBA Members receive a discount on the dinner price too. Very finally for 2013 their AGM and (hopefully) flyout from Camp Hill Estate, Kirklington, North Yorkshire is on Sunday 1st December 2013 at 11am. With every meet they have organised (except one) having been flyable this year, they have reported it as a fabulous year! Check out their very friendly website where, even if you are not a member you can read up reports on this year’s events For dates and further details go to our Balloon Meets & Events page.

Laundering of Scrapped Jet Engine Parts
5 damaged fan bladesOriginally issued as an FAA SAFO (Safety Alert for Operators) this is one of the more interesting items that has popped up on the Airworthiness Directive listings as Safety Information Bulletin, SIB 2013-18, relating to the laundering of scrapped jet engine parts. Clicking on the link it transpires that from April 2005 to August 2009, Shelby Enterprises of Suffern, New York using parts brokers, Tara Aviation and Tara Technology registered in Guernsey and Ridgefield, New Jersey reintroduced scrapped jet engine blades and vanes into the aerospace industry. Shelby Enterprises apparently purchased used blades and vanes, the whizzy bits inside jet engines from scrap metal dealers. Once purchased, the parts were grit blasted and blended at a metal shop, which is well naughty and unsurprisingly ‘a violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations’, to conceal that the parts had been scrapped. False paperwork was then generated to conceal to FAA repair stations and the purchasers of the aircraft parts that the parts were scrapped and had previously been rejected as non-repairable by other FAA repair stations, flogged them and pocketed the cash. So if your technician has bought ‘new’ blades or vanes out the back of a Transit for your Lear Jet best you have a look at the paperwork a bit post-ockto-proctor. Questions or comments regarding this SAFO should be directed to Thomas Mancuso or Fred Grill (great name), Teterboro Flight Standards District Office, FAA, by telephone at (201) 556-6600 or by fax at (201) 556-6623. The SIB is at:

Rumour control – Lindstrand’s Simon Forse gives a heads up on the facts
6 Lindstrand demonstatorWe are sure many of you will have heard by now but we have been undergoing some pretty major changes here at the yellow factory. So while we know everyone loves a bit of of gossip (after all who doesn’t?) its time to have a chat about the real reasons for the changes. When we started Lindstrand’s, worldwide sales of balloons hit the highest level they ever reached . Unfortunately for all of us the trend since then has been downwards but a counter trend appeared with a large number of our clients wanting even bigger and more complicated balloons. So, since those early days we have generally gone from strength to strength but we do have to admit we caught the odd cold along the way too.

One thing we will say about catching the odd cold though is that you build up immunity for the future. In our case we learnt some very valuable lessons . One of the most important was to keep a watchful eye on those trends so that we could act proactively instead of being ‘caught with our trousers down’ so to speak. Last year the industry started to feel a bit of a sniffle. The reasons for this are numerous from worldwide slowdown finally starting to pinch to the riots in Turkey affecting tourist numbers. The time had come to put those lessons learnt into action, to be pro active while still hale and healthy and so we started closely monitoring the market from week to week. What we learnt was that the market was shrinking and this time quite heavily with the half year figures for 2013 showing total worldwide sales for all manufacturers down 15% and the forward projections showing an even bigger shrinkage . Its not all bad news. While the total market shrank we have actually increased our overall share of the market compared to last year but being a bigger fish in a smaller pond doesn’t allow you to be complacent. So after much soul searching, some heavy number crunching and long consultations with all the family here at Lindstrand we came to the decision that we had to right size our business for the future market. We are very fortunate in that we have the most wonderful workforce. Everyone understood the need for the changes and many of those of our family that left offered to go voluntarily, but it is still never easy to say goodbye to people you have worked with for years, 11 moved on to new horizons and we wish them all the best and would like to thank them for helping make Lindstrand the company it is today. The changes will ensure that the Big Yellow Factory will remain healthy log into the future, but it is a bitter pill to swallow when you have to say goodbye to very good friends.

Little and Large to go solo
Dave Such has come up with a new meet to run over the weekend of 31 May – 1st June at Sackville Lodge Airfield, Riseley, Beds. Called the Little (and Large) Solo Meet it is designed for those that fly solo but don’t meet the One Man Meet criteria (but if you do then its another meet for one man balloons anyway if you get me drift? You are invited to come along and fly solo in baskets, hoppers or whatever you care to chuck in the air. Tim Wilkinson will run the catering and provide camping in a way only he can so all in all it looks like it could be a good one. The entry fee £20 and there will be camping with food and gas on site. Flying Friday evening if you get there early enough is an option. Interestingly the dropping of parachutists is forbidden so if you take-off with a passenger by accident you can’t bung them over the side!

Everyone is welcome but to fly your balloon be it little or large it must be flown solo. Up for grabs are some great prizes including goodies donated by Cameron Balloons, Lindstrand balloons, Ultramagic Balloons and Zededee and a free annual inspection donated by the man himself Dave Such and the paperwork being processed free of charge by Easy Balloons plus the awarding of the all new specially commissioned Derry Moore Trophy to the newest qualified pilot to fly from the event. Details and entry form from Dave Such, tel 01763 849287, mob 07989 988082 email

Meteorology for Aviators training at the Met Office
The Met Office are running two training courses coming up in early November that but if you are interested you’ll have to be quick as bookings close on the 5th November so first up is Met for Aviators running over 12 and 13th November and is a two day course that will set you back £329. It is designed to broaden and enhance the pilot’s knowledge of aviation weather, particularly in relation to low-level route planning and safety. The course is aimed at light-aircraft pilots of all levels of competency and covers topics such as basic meteorological theory and the interpretation of met charts. This also includes a tour of the round-the-clock Operations Centre, the heart of weather forecasting for low level aviators in the UK and international aviation flying above 24000ft around the world. Secondly on 14th November they are holding the Weather Decision Making one day course for a very reasonable £145. Aimed at experienced pilots, Weather Decision Making can be regarded as an advanced module of the Meteorology for Aviators course. Weather decision-making for pilots brings together knowledge in aviation meteorology theory and interpretation skills with Meteorological Threat and Error Management (TEM) to help you become a safe and proficient route flyer. Dates for next year are Met for Aviators 24-25th February with Weather Decision Making on 26th February 2014. The courses are being held at the Met Office’s headquarters in Exeter. For specific details on the course dates and link to booking go to

Don’t Cut It! – New Licence Dilemma
In a shock horror revelation it has been discovered that the “new style” national licences being issued by UK CAA are in fact a single piece of double sided, A4, security paper. Looks like something chucked out of a cheapo printer to be honest! It is designed to fold into a new dark blue under-sized wallet, supposedly to take any licence, that is half the size of the old purple balloon licence wallet. The CAA claim that this is to standardise remaining UK licences ready for the new Part-FCL format requirements. Under no circumstances must the new style licence be cut or trimmed to fit otherwise you will immediately become non-airworthy and unsafe at any altitude.

If you are issued with a new style cheap-skate bit of paper then that is where any ratings are re-validated. Even if there is space on the old style Certificate of Test or Certificate of Experience cards then they must not be used for re-validation purposes if you have anew one. If you are still running on the old style licence then its business as usual. Make sure that the TRE or Examiner actually states what he is signing you off for in the appropriate (restricted) place. To help Examiners and (pilots generally) the new licence can be easily recognised as they will contain extremely small print (stating don’t cut this up) and will be valid (in so far as the physical licence is concerned) for life rather than for 10 years. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security the CAA dutifully reminds us that all UK CPL(B) holders who operate EASA aircraft within the EU and other EASA states will still need to hold a Balloon Pilot’s Licence (BPL) on or before 8th April 2015. That’ll be more money then and even smaller print in eight languages no doubt.

Ballooning in Wales – Fforest Fields in British top five awards
7 Paragliding Fforest FieldsWhen we were on the road, as it were, the most looked forward to event was The Royal Welsh Show not so much for the event but the hospitality provided by the Barstows just up the road at Hundred House. It’s a long time ago now that they set up a camp site in their lower meadows and over the years they have hosted all types of event there including ballooning. This year they have picked up yet another prestigious award to plonk on their already creaking mantelpiece coming in the top five UK campsites. That’s no mean feat.8 Will Barstow fforest fields If you fancy somewhere different to fly from and combine it with camping (or caravanning) then this is one very aviation friendly campsite. Now, maybe we might suggest the One Man Meet goes there? If the name Barstow rings a bell then it was probably you met Ollie who worked at Camerons for a while in the Technical bit. The piccie is Will proudly showing off their latest award before the ink had dried and it had been framed. How cool is that?