Balloon Repair Station

News 14.01.14

Ultramagic TCDS goes to BA.014 issue
First things first so just in case you missed the last Airworthiness Bulletin 06.01.14. our apologies, or maybe its just the dating and Christmas break resulting in the late appearance as our lovely EASA friends stuff themselves on anchovies and Black Forest Gateaux. It seems then that Ultramagic got under the radar with a sneaky update to their TCDS BA.014 which went from Issue 16 to Issue 17 on 20/12/13. The changes are mainly to Section 9 Series B, 9.1 General and 9.2 Burner and baskets for Z-models. Section 10 Notes, contains changes to Note 5 Use of external cylinders on baskets CT-01, CT-02, CT-03 and Note 6 Compatibility notes for the use of basket CT-03 with Mk21 single and double burners and BMK.008 single and double burners. The Manuals and TCDS page on the site was updated accordingly.

Icicle beats the weather – Pete Bish orders flying slot
1 Gary Davies Icicle 2014Unbelievably the Icicle managed to get airborne albeit a mad dash in a very, very narrow weather spot on Sunday 12th January. Despite atrocious forecasts and the weather obviously being a no-no the Saturday morning briefing was very well attended and quickly adjourned to the Elcot Hotel. Following a fine performance by Colin ‘Wobbly’ Wolstenholme (the bloke with the red hat) at the Saturday Night luncheon the winds dropped out and freezing temperatures arrived and come the morning it was deemed flyable. Five brave souls swung into the air. Ground winds were described as light with a good 20 knots at 1500 feet. Richard Parry and Richard Penney managed to get to Faringdon, narrowly missing the Folly, in a respectable time whilst Tom Hilditch ended up being retrieved by an ambulance and police car after a concerned member of the public called the emergency services. The Organisers have had a difficult year since losing the Savernake

Forest launchsite but eventually after much effort they managed to secure the playing fields on Marlborough Common. See the story Defying the Weather Forecast – Icicle 2014 elsewhere on the site and check out Richard Penney’s account of his flight at

Chinese invasion fails – balloon down in China Sea
2 chinese balloon seaIn a somewhat unbelievable report circulated on the 2nd January 2014 it seems a Chinese gentleman, one Xu Shuaijun, a 35 year old Chinese chef from the Chinese province of Fujian attempted to fly to the disputed Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea but ended up ditching and was rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard. The island chain are at the centre of a long running dispute with China where they are known as the Diaoyu Islands or the Diaoyutai Islands if you are from Taiwan or even the Pinnacle Isles if you’ve heard of the explorer James Colnett. The dispute, as normal, revolves around oil reserves and attempts by Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese activists to land on the uninhabited islands for ages but all have been thwarted by the Japanese Coast Guard. There seem to be a few takes on the story, one suggests he radioed the Coast Guard for assistance before ditching and another that the Coastguard received a missing-person report from Taiwanese officials whereupon a coastguard helicopter spotted him about 12 miles from the islands. The Japanese then picked him up by boat and handed him over to a Chinese patrol ship. He is reputed to have told the Coastguard that he had taken off on 1st January but had encountered turbulence and crashed. The Coastguard added that although he was in Japanese territorial waters they decided not to press charges as they could not determine the exact place he had landed. Quite what the true story is we’ll obviously never know but the Islands are certainly a sensitive issue with the Japanese claiming that Chinese vessels are constantly sailing in and out of what they see as their territorial waters. This in turn was complicated when China declared an Air-defence Identification Zone which covers an area of the East China Sea in which are the islands. Back in August 2012 the Japanese police arrested 14 pro-China activists who had sailed from Hong Kong with some setting foot on one of the islands. Then it gets worse as Japan doesn’t recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state anyway. I’d never heard of them but now a balloonist has brought them to our attention I’ll have to have a read up. Maybe Xu could be up for an award or more likely a spell in the clink.

Anyone can do it in a Spit – Have a look at this Dakota
Probably just about everyone has seen the YouTube clip of the reporter and Spitfire, well our Barry reckons this beats the Spitfire film hands down. Apparently it was filmed at a private airstrip miles from anywhere. Hmmm.

Old & Rusties ecstatic – BBM&L Inflation Day announced
3 Mr Flame Mr PeanutsHot off the press the British Balloon Museum & Library has announced the date of its brilliant bi-annual Inflation Day. This popular event, which attracts a sizeable turnout of long unseen envelopes and pilots will once again be held by kind permission of David Hopkins at Pidley Lodge Golf Club in Cambridgeshire on Saturday 26th April. Now this isn’t for the faint-hearted as there are many old envelopes that will come out even if the wind is horizontal but if its half decent you can expect to see some old favourites including Mr Peanuts. There are two themes to this years gathering, a Tribute to Western Balloons and ‘Artwork Doubles’ so get hunting and a fantastic event will be assured. Apart from that, if you’ve got an old and unloved envelope in the shed or lining the loft dig it out and bring it along as they’ll be plenty of bottom ends to use and helpers to lug stuff about. The Golf Club boasts a fine bar and restaurant along with a ten-pin bowling alley. BBM&L usually charge a nominal entry fee which goes to the Museum’s funds. For Tomtit users the full address is Lakeside Lodge Golf Centre, Fen Road, Pidley, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 3DF. See you there. For further details and entry forms go to the website at and click on the ‘contact us’ bit.

Failed Airlines in 2013 List out
4 saha 707This annual ditty always make interesting reading if not for anything else than simple down to earth reasons are given. We were sad to see our mates Kingfisher Airlines finally go in January. An airline that promoted and offered beer over champagne, we liked that. Quite a few airlines did actually get shut down like Tulkpar Air and Tatarstan Airlines, both Russian Republics and both cited as having exactly the same problems (including crashes) “violations in established flight norms, working hours and rest periods for the flight crew and qualification standards of the crew’. In proper Russian style though they weren’t shut down immediately. What is really very sad is that Iranian-based Saha Airlines have finally gone. Now the sadness comes from the fact that they were the last company commercially operating the Boeing 707. Enthusiasts are said to be heart-broken. To see the rather entertaining piece go to

Hand Luggage reminder – how big is your bag
Our ever helpful Government want to remind us of what we can and can’t take aboard as hand-luggage. You can take liquids in your hold luggage, but there are strict regulations in place about hand luggage which include gels, sprays (aerosols) and pastes. Strictly ‘containers must be carried in a single, transparent, re-sealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm’. In the case of medicines if you notify the airport (not the airline) in advance they will allow you to take an ‘essential’ bottle with you. Otherwise a 100ml rule applies. Most security agencies follow ICAO guidelines when it comes to hand luggage but individual carriers often have their own criteria which is well worth checking if you are changing planes in the course of your journey. The 56mm size was set by Airbus and Boeing when they standardised the overhead bin size for narrow bodied jets so bags going in top-first will fit without going sideways. Soft bags should also apply regarding width, but often don’t.

Southend Airspace Restrictions – Essex balloonists sort it
Southend airmapEd Lubbock and the London Region have been hard at work getting some concessions for balloons to operate within the extended Southend Control Zone and Control Area. A very thorough and practical draft has been drawn up which does seem to be most helpful. It comes in two parts dealing with the Control Zone and Control Area and another the airspace under the Base of the Southend Control Areas. As the area covers quite a few existing launch sites, Southend is next to the seaside and it is unlikely that there will be many wishing to enter it from the north unless things have gone wrong, on the face of it they seem to be quite open to prior telephone requests on the understanding that there is a reasonable likelihood that the balloon will not cross directly overhead Southend Airport and radio contact is established and maintained. So it appears that flying out of the Zones will not be a problem. Once the Agreement is signed then more information will be published.

Busted prop syndrome – Zebedee rebuild service
6 fan bladeFan blade got a chunk missing or vibrating like a good’un? Well that stalwart of ‘finding someone that can do it’ Pete Bish of Zebedee Balloon Services has found a whittler that will mend your damaged fan blade. It’s a well known fact that even small damage to blades can result in spectacular and sudden failure of the prop especially the multi-laminated type. One of the most common reasons for damage is damage to the cage itself and contact being made with broken guard wires or fixings. Obviously if the blade is more-less-than-there then there is little that can be done but chunks missing and providing the thing is cracked then repairs can usually be made. We have just had one back from them and a fine job has been made. It is still well in-balance and has been very professionally refinished and looks jolly smart. Turn round seems to be about two weeks. Its probably best to see if it can be fixed first, just because it seems OK doesn’t necessarily mean that further initially unseen damage has been caused to the laminations. For details or book it in call or mail Zebedee Balloon Services on 01488 681527 email

Tracey Curtis-Taylor back from Cape Town in her Stearman
7 Tracey Curtis-TaylorJolly well done to Tracey Curtis Taylor who arrived at Goodwood on 31st December following an epic flight re-tracing the one taken by Mary Heath in 1928, the first woman to hold a commercial flying licence in Britain, who then made front page news around the world as the first pilot, male or female, to fly solo in a small, open-cockpit biplane from Cape Town to London. Tracey left Cape Town on the 2nd November 2013 in her open-cockpit 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane, Spirit of Artemis, and, covering 9825 miles in 38 legs, landed at Goodwood on New Year’s Eve in cloud and drizzle to a rapturous welcome. The Stearman has a top speed of 95 mph and maximum range of only 450 miles. During the two month adventure she actually covered over 10,000 miles if you take into account diversions for filming and game spotting! A lot of the flight up Africa was conducted at reasonably low-level and editing has now started on a high resolution documentary and ‘A Woman in Africa’ produced by Nylon Films should be out later in the year. Irish born Mary Heath was 31 and as Lady Heath she took three months between January and May 1928 to fly from South Africa to Cairo then across the Mediterranean from Tunis to Catania in Sicily flying on to Naples, Rome, Marseilles, Paris landing her Avro Avian III on Croydon Airfield on May 17. Tracey followed her route but opted not to fly through Libya so flew to Crete, then back via Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Germany and France in some of the worst winter weather recorded. Pretty cold and bold then! Its always a shame that such adventures are not reported on more and we generally only hear about them when they are all done and dusted so thanks for the heads-up go to Ian Taylor who was there when she landed and took the pictures and of course big ones to Tracey. See more at Ian’s site and the full story at the official website More on Lady Heath at,103699 and a very well researched book ‘Lady Icarus – The Life of Irish Aviator Lady Mary Heath’ by Lindie Naughton may still be in print.

And Finally on matters Len Bartram – Sorry
We had a rather official headed letter from the RAF 100 Group Association in which Janine Bradley (nee Harrington), the RAF Group Association Secretary, stating that we hadn’t given her or the RAF 100 Group Association due credit for the last in the series of booklets on the Airfields of Norfolk. Just to be clear, the article formerly known as ‘More Len Bartram and the RAF 100 Group Airfields of Norfolk’ has been amended and re-named ‘Finishing what Len Bartram started – RAF 100 Group Airfields of Norfolk’ and I trust that we have now made it perfectly clear that the booklets on RAF Great Massingham, West Raynham, Swannington, and Little Snoring are all down to her and her endeavours and have no input from Len Bartram or his wife. We apologise if any offence or incorrect information has been perceived to have been given.