Balloon Repair Station

News 18.06.14.

Huge welcome to our new Inspectors
We are delighted to announce that Mondovi star Paolo Oggioni and the extremely clever Geoff Lescott, Oxford University don’t you know, have joined us and are now approved to sign off inspections on our behalf, carry out Airworthiness Reviews and issue ARCs (the other bit of paper!). Additionally Dan Wilson based in Norfolk is now also approved as an ARC signatory for Easy Balloons.

Paolo runs a well cool Italian company called Slowfly Mongolfiere. He has a very nice well-equipped workshop where, apart from general balloony repairs he can carry out Proof Pressure Testing and he is also an Instructor of some renown. He is happy to travel but equally delighted to carry out inspections in Mondovi, Italy, so if your balloon resides there then he is on site. Currently he rated as a Cat3 inspector and is approved to inspect regular shapes upto 120,000 cu.ft. He can be contacted on mobile: +39 335 1045115 or by email at

Geoff Lescott lives in Cowley, Oxford and is rated to inspect CAT3 regular shaped balloons also up to 120,000 cu.ft. He is generally available during the week and weekends for inspections. He has a fine sense of humour and admits a fondness for exotic locations and machinery (but that doesn’t have to be too exotic) and prefers returning customers. Which means he will travel by arrangement. He can be contacted by email at, mobile 07711 638526, home 01865 770794. He also has a hopper that I would like!

And Big Ones to new pilots
7 CAA Alex Court balloon licenceCongratulations to Alex Court, BBAC Training Officer Dave Court’s 16 year old son who recently gained his licence following a check flight with Kevin Meeham. Amazingly his, clearly enjoyable, solo flight lasted an astonishing 1.50hr and took place, rather nicely, on a North West Balloon & Airship Club day! Rumour Control tells us that him and his dad took the bold move and ventured way south on the 17th June (his 17th birthday) to collect his licence in person. All went well when they got to Gatwick and the CAA’s new ‘GA Hub’ worked flawlessly and included a proper presentation by Tony Rapson, Head of the CAA’s General Aviation Unit. Also big ones to Josh Taylor who checked out on Friday 13th June. Clearly he isn’t superstitious! Checked out by Colin Butter in winds that dropped light the hour and a half flight was proclaimed ‘hard work’ by Josh. Rumour Control also has it that Chris Wood’s son has also checked out. Well done to one and all.

Sweltering Sywell – A day in the sunshine
4 sywell balloon groupA change of venue this year to inspect the balloons of the ever accommodating David Hopkins, the BBM&L Mug and Andy Kaye’s special shapes meant a trip to Sywell Airfield in Northamptonshire. If you have never been to Sywell before then we can’t recommend it enough. Apart from a very accessible car park it has a very fine museum and has won numerous awards for being ‘Aviation Friendly’. John Everton arranged for the grass to be cut, the sun to shine all day resulting in a pod of lobsters clambering about the balloons, a fine chippie lunch and the wind to abate just long enough for a bit of horizontal tethering, Aston Martin being surprising stable to the delight of a the reggie hunters in the car park. Amongst the those that came and helped were the awfully nice Mr and Mrs Austin who made a guest appearence, Old & Rusties Neil Iveson and later, after we’d packed away everything, Martyn Turner. We were treated to a continuous stream of twins, Ultralights, Microlights, helicopters and a Tiger Moth buzzing about plus a low pass by helicopter ace Martin Lovell in one of those baddie-type Hughes helicopters. Now after all that hard work a drink was needed and where better than the amazing 1930s Aviator Art-Deco Hotel than adjoins the carpark. 5 Sywell AviatorThis is truly a gem of a place and one of the many reasons Sywell is such a popular airfield. If we thought the day was over it wasn’t. As we sat destroying some cold cider a jet Provost, nose light on, came over at quite a respectably low height and swept over us leaving a dark trail from its distinctive Viper engine as it banked away heading for Bedford. The phones came out en-masse but it was gone. What a finale. Thanks to everyone again.

EASA possible revue of the revision of the Regulation extended
A rather unsurprising note popped up in the inbox the other week announcing that according to Article 6.5 of the Management Board Decision No 01-2012, the consultation period of A-NPA-2014-12 “European Commission policy initiative on aviation safety and a possible revision of Regulation (EC) No 216/2008” has been extended until 15 Sep 2014. Great. This is another bit of possibly glint of light (chink at the moment) and may mean some of the nonsense that applies to balloons may get revised. Of course it may not but if you haven’t made this bedtime reading yet give it a go. You’ll need to respond using the automated Comment-Response Tool (CRT) available at and to which you will have to register. The relatively lightweight tome of 29 pages invites comments through questions which doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre.

I had to laugh reading through it. In the very first points and questions bit, no less than 3.1.2. Safety training: An integrated approach, Question 3.1.1 demonstrates the reality of EASA people in Question (5)
(1) Do you see issues with the existing, rather prescriptive compliance-based system as described above?
If yes, please identify possible policy options:
(5) How do you suggest to implement the actions contained in the EASp, and
which role should the different actors be given?

For more hilarity download the document from

Pilot killed in landing accident in Pennsylvania
The pilot of a passenger ride balloon died on Sunday 15th June after coming out of the basket during an apparently routine landing in a field on the outskirts of East Pikeland Township, near Spring City and could not be revived after becoming trapped under the basket. A witness said that the balloon seemed to have landed normally around 7am but that two of the passengers had rushed across to him having already dialled the emergency services to find out their exact location. In a statement East Pikeland Township’s Police Chief James Franciscus said that “The pilot got trapped between the basket of the balloon and the ground surface, and was dragged along the ground.” He explained that, “When the balloon lands, apparently there’s a rope you have to pull. When he reached out to grab this rope, apparently he fell out of the basket. Then he got between the basket and the ground and it dragged him across the ground.” He added that the pilot, was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. The pilot was later named as Jeff Hooten of Albuquerque, New Mexico. None of the 10 passengers aboard were injured.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating but a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration said preliminary information indicated that Hooten fell out when the balloon bounced after a hard landing. The balloon was operated by United States Hot Air Balloon Team. Their spokesman, Stan Hess, said the Federal Aviation Administration had already investigated the incident and found no problems with the balloon or the company’s operation and that they did not wish to comment further until after the autopsy had been carried out.

Shapes at the Black Horse – Nearly the Sainsbury’s Tour
8 G-CEMW bananas shapeA splendid day and a very willing bunch of friends enabled us to get a pile of balloons sorted out last week including the inspection of the old Sainsbury Bananas Special Shape, G-CEMW (formally G-OCAW), following some rather complicated repairs. John maintains that the Lindstrand built shape is the most complicated balloon he has ever had to repair. It is essentially two balloons, one inside the other and to repair the inner and outer layers took a fair bit of puzzling, unpicking and reassembling. We then hot inflated and gave the Maxwell House Balloon its final check-over prior to its paperwork coming through and it being declared airworthy once more. Taking advantage of many hands we replaced the turning vent lines on the Strawberry which had gone from a bit ‘advise getting brittle’ to bits of Kevlar popping through when it took to the air. Since the Strawberry wobbled back into the air several people have asked about the Sainsbury Special Shapes. There were six balloons all together (seven if you count the replacement Strawberry). There was an Apple, a Bunch of Flowers, a Bunch of Carrots, a Strawberry the Bananas and a Hopper. The original Strawberry wore out and was retired and a new one built. I think Sainsburys used the new one to introduce their ‘Making Life Taste Better’ advertising campaign. 9 G-BVBJ maxwell house shapeThe Flowers, Carrots and Apple ended in the States with Linas Mastis if I recall. We carried out some extensive repairs to the Flowers before it went! Apart from a grand tour around the country with the gaggle, Flying Pictures also produced a film for Sainsburys and naturally we have been asked all about it…There is apparently a copy of it on Youtube. I have to say watching it today there appears to be a lot I have clearly forgotten however we did have great fun making it and touring with the shapes and one of these days we’ll have to try and put something together all about it but in the meantime here is the link. Thanks to Bradley Lewis, Jonathan Harris, Pete and everyone else that dropped by and helped.

Unpredictable weather for Exclusive Cup – success declared nevertheless
10 exclusive cup StroudHeld over the weekend of the 13-15 June the ever popular Exclusive Cup organised by Andrew Holly’s company Exclusive Ballooning and sponsored by Renishaw attracted a good turnout. Friday evening was looking good but in sunny Wendover we knew it would turn out very wet as the neighbouring farmer came and cut the late John Brown’s hay. It always tips it down the night he does it! True to form it did and the weather came from the west. Reportedly the storm appeared very unexpectedly over the school playing fields in Stroud (bizarrely we actually landed there from Great Missenden one year), Gloucestershire, catching some balloons being laid out. All were safely gathered in however and as the briefing was, at the same moment, being held in a marquee in the adjoining pub car park the brave (and some wet) balloonists strolled into the bar for an enjoyable evening. Saturday morning was pronounced flyable. The forecast wasn’t quite correct and the balloons took off in a brisk wind with a tad of instability being reported by some pilots. One courageous soul explained that the 14 knot landing did hone the skills. The upper wind was reported as being somewhat underestimated being more in the region of 25 knots. Predictably the rest of Saturday got windier and the evening remained gusty and unstable until late but once more fate intervened and they got away Sunday morning in what turned out to be perfect conditions with some having a two hour sedate drift across Gloucestershire ending much more sedately with a gentle plonk back on terra firma. The Exclusive Cup this year went to Mike Howard with other awards going to (predictably) Richard Parry and Mike Howard with Jamie Searle picking up the Model Ballooning Trophy. nice video from Neil Gabriel’s Aerial Aspect Imaging Company.

New Aerostat Editor Appointed
Congratulations to Tom Gouder from Gloucestershire who has been appointed as the new editor for Aerostat. Tom is a journalist and advertising coordinator working on a local magazine and has also been an active balloon pilot since 2000. He has also organised the Thornbury Balloon meet in recent years. Tom will be supported by Brian Trowbridge (a British Balloon & Airship Main Committee member) who will act as the Aerostat’s manager, reporting to the Main Committee. Tom will take the role of Advertising Manager as well as that of Editor. The Club’s popular ballooning magazine will in future be produced and printed by a new contractor, a company with whom Tom is already working. The new arrangement is already up and running to ensure production of the August 2014 issue arrives on time. ‘The immediate objective of the new team’, says the BBAC Main Committee Chairman Ian Hooker, ‘is to ensure the continued high standard of content and production quality for Aerostat’, adding that, ‘In future there will be discussion between the new team and the MC to explore the possibility of electronic versions of Aerostat’. Hmm interesting turn about.

CAA Prosecute Quadcopter bloke
A man who flew a small unmanned aircraft over Alton Towers, endangering the safety of the theme park’s customers, has pleaded guilty to two separate charges at Stafford Magistrates Court. The court heard Mark Spencer, 34, had flown his quadcopter device over a number of rides at the Staffordshire attraction on 9 November 2013, bringing it within close proximity to people as he filmed using an onboard camera. The video was subsequently posted on YouTube and was later brought to the attention of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Whoops, error.

Mr Spencer, of Stoke on Trent, who was standing in the car park of Alton Towers while he flew his aircraft, was charged with two offences. Not maintaining direct, unaided visual contact with a small unmanned aircraft (Articles 166(3) and 241(6) Air Navigation Order 2009) and Flying a small unmanned surveillance aircraft over or within 150 metres of any congested area (Articles 167(1), 167(2)(a) and 241(6), Air Navigation Order 2009).

Magistrates fined Mr Spencer £150 for each offence (£300 total) and ordered him to pay a contribution towards the CAA’s costs of £250. The CAA said the case sent a message to recreational users of small unmanned aircraft that the devices are subject to aviation safety rules. More information on the regulation of small unmanned aircraft is available at

Bambi escapes tedding – shock horror
1 bambi2Now here’s a thing. Farm machinery and wildlife quite often come into conflict. You certainly get to see a lot from a tractor or combine. Every so often though you come across something that makes you smile. Son-in-law Farmer Jay was busy tedding the other day when he spotted movement in the rowed hay and blow me down there was a very young fallow deer. Now spotting movement of these little things is one thing but finding them on the ground is another. It took a couple of clambers on and off the tractor before he could positively see where it was and rescue it. Normally you would move them to an adjacent row and leave them be but there were a brace of foxes watching intently, like they do, so he decided to hang onto it until they had departed and dropped it off with our Mary. Later that same day he spotted a small herd of the beauties clearly looking for it so quick as a flash he checked for foxes and got Bambi back down the field and left them to it but not before Nicole had checked it out.

Now that’s the way to get in the news!
2 G-ODSS KhaosThe news that a replica of the Statue of Jesus, Christ the Redeemer, that protects Rio de Janiero sporting an Australian soccer team shirt has been flown over select Australian cities has met with a distinct mix of feelings. Built on top of Corcovado Mountain the statue represents Brazilian Christianity and has become an icon for Brazil. Admidst tight security and secrecy Cameron Balloons built the balloon, which is bigger than the real thing, for Australian Betting Company With ‘Keep the Faith’ emblazoned across the shirt Sportsbet claimed that it sought to offer support to the Australia National Association football team The Socceroos.

Sportsbet were upbeat about the whole thing in a PR media-splash-sensation sort of way. “Let’s be honest, the Socceroos need a divine intervention in order to progress past their opponents,” Shaun Anderson, PR manager for Sportsbet, was quoted as saying. “The message the company aimed to get across is for all Aussies to keep the faith in the Socceroos.” In stark contrast The Reverent Costello, the chair of the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, criticized the advertisement. He said, “One of the great statues in Rio is Jesus, and Brazil is a Catholic nation that takes its faith seriously and its football fanatically.11 G-ODSS inside You don’t exploit those things that are sacred to people simply for your own advertising reach and I think that soccer as a world game should be sensitive to that and certainly express their disdain for these types of advertisements.” Meanwhile Australian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan added that the ad is disrespectful and that the hot-air balloon must be brought down. Rumours have it that they weren’t over-impressed by the registration G-ODSS either.

Sportsbet weren’t the only people dressing up The Lord in a football shirt though. An Italian TV Channel ran an advert in support of the Italian Team which really upset the Archdiocese of Rio who has now threatened the channel with a copyright suit with damages of about $10.1 million. It seems doubtful then that the balloon will ever be seen again and certainly its unlikely to ever leave Australia. Cameron Balloons website has all the facts and figures about the 150 foot high balloon under the slightly more sensitive title ‘New Wonder of the World Cup. The weight at just over a third of a ton is admittedly heavy but short of the 625 tons of the original. As for the pilot, it seems he has gone into hiding but we’ll try and track him down and get his side of the story! It was noted that he did appear to fly it higher than he normally flies his passenger balloon. A result of Peter Ryan’s comment? The pilot of this controversial balloon? Only Captain Khaos.

Not quite Stop Press – The bits that nearly got away

Cameron Balloons may have cut their postal charges (they really have) but the new carriers, UPS, don’t seem to turn up until very late afternoon so it isn’t really next day. Panic over though as they do offer a proper next day delivery which is still well cheaper than the old carriers and the stuff arrives about nine o’clock. If you need bits quickly you do need to tell Camerons otherwise allow two days.

Geoff Preece has not only found an Old and Rusty Cameron Viva 56, G-BLUJ dating from 1985 but he has bought it and intends to learn to fly in it. The envelope has a bit of mildew in it but on the whole it was well strong and showed no signs of porosity. The basket was a nice little CB300-2A and with a bit of TLC will come up smiling. To power the little gem it still has its original Cameron Mk4 single burner. Nice one Geoff.

6 cylinderMost talked about cylinder in recent weeks was a rather tired looking Worthington Master serial number 59698J which appeared on ebay as a ‘genuine hot air balloon cylinder’. In all 13 bids were made for it with it finally going down for the princely sum of £63.50. The seller was a Mr barneydog2 and it had to be collected from Alness in the Highlands of Scotland, quite a famous place as it happens. Sunderlands were based there don’t you know!