Rules of the Air - VMC changes
As part of the super duper new Standardised Rules of the Air changes, Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC), that is the Visibility and Distance from Cloud Minima, have had a makeover. Now the Civil Aviation Authority permits, under paragraph SERA.5001 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No.923/2012 (‘the Standardised European Rules of the Air’ (SERA)), flight visibilities reduced to not less than 1,500m within Class G airspace for flights operating subject to the conditions set out in paragraph 2. Which is that the aircraft is flying at or below 3,000 feet above mean sea level and flying at speeds of 140 kt Indicated Airspeed (IAS) or less to give adequate opportunity to observe other traffic or any obstacles in time to avoid collision. This permission replaces Official Record Series 4 No.1064, which is now revoked and is effective from 10 December 2014 until it to is revoked. Having said that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed that the UK implementation of the European Union’s Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) has been delayed and as a result, there will be no changes to minimum height rules, and both VFR and Special VFR flight at night will continue to be permitted. So there you go again good old harmonisation at its best!!!
Splish splosh - Two Eagles breaks records
http://www.pacificballoon.com/Flight_Status.php Whoops, sorry should have been some writing to go with this but the website address is here. Congratulations anyway. More next time. Might even put up an update!!!
Another CAP611 Fire & First Aid Course
Bristol Safety Ltd are to run another CAP 611 Fire & First Aid Course on Wednesday 11th March at the BAWA Centre, Filton, Bristol BS34 7RG. The course will remain provisional until 4th March. To make a reservation or for further details please contact the Training Co-ordinator, Justin Lane by telephone on +44 (0)7709 460992, email email@example.com or for more information visit their website www.bristolsafety.co.uk. We are just back from one and it cost £99.00, was refreshing straightforward, covered all the syllabus well and didn't take all day!
Frozen solid – The all new Icicle announced
A date for your diaries. We can now confirm that this event will take place on 2nd and 3rd of January at Donnington Grove Country Club, on the edge of Newbury. It looks like it will be run by the 3-4-40 Region and follow the old format in so far as it will be relaxed with a Trade Show and Meal. Shame it’s the first weekend of the Year though. The impression we get from our regulars is that it was far better on the second weekend as was traditional. Registration and room booking are not yet available but will be updated as the event gets nearer. Not sure if the organizers will use the old website or not. http://www.icicle.org.uk/
Congested Area Take-Off Permission for Balloons reminder
A new permission was issued on 1st December and differs slightly from the old one. It also overrides the old one so if you are flying from the Village Green or local playing fields it probably applies and you should be carrying it with you. Frustratingly and typically, it now seems, this permission is currently under review pending the CAA’s determination of the new SERA (Standardised European Rule of the Air) rules and their application which, as we know, are on hold!! This permission supersedes Official Record Series 4 No. 997, which is now revoked and has effect until 1 December 2015 unless previously revoked. Best read through it to avoid confusion. It should download as a pdf from this link;
Welcome to Floating Sensations
A big welcome to Paul Dopson and Heaven Crawley’s Cotswold-based Floating Sensations who have kindly chosen to use the services of the Easy Balloon CAMO. They run a small, very friendly, privately run ride operation offering bespoke champagne hot air balloon flights over the Cotswolds and Gloucestershire for two from their base in Chalford. With such an exclusive service they can offer flights from your own land or from a location of your choice, subject to ground and airspace restrictions. They are happy to accept bookings from anywhere and will travel. Having access to larger balloons they are also able to cater for larger parties. Their flight vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase with all flights subject to availability and the weather on the day. If you are unable to fly due to the weather conditions they will simply extend it for an extra 12 months at no extra cost.
For further details email firstname.lastname@example.org , telephone: 01285 760879 or visit their website http://www.balloonflights.co.uk/index.html.
PPL Training Days - Dates for the diary
Two more dates have been announced for those wishing to gain their Instructor rating be it under the ‘eventually to be decided EASA improved method’ or the current system. Dave Court will be running two further sessions one on Saturday 25 April which will cover EASA Part 1 and another on Saturday 7 November on Navigation which will be useful to many I’m sure! All will be held at the NFU Mutual Headquarters, Stratford-upon-Avon. Details at www.bbac.org or contact email@example.com. Please book through the BBAC Shop www.bbac.org/shop.
Military Low Flying discussions on the BBAC website
Kevin Meehan the head honcho of the Examiners has posted an interesting bit about Military Low Flying on the BBAC Website so we are told. Using entries from the MOD website and the appropriate CAA Safety Sense Leaflet he reports that Military aircraft are usually permitted to fly down to 250 feet minimum safe distance (MSD) and 50 feet MSD for helicopters. In certain parts of UK, military aircraft may operate, for essential training purposes, down to 100 ft MSD and below. Many operations involve two aircraft so if you see one, watch out for the other one! Military low flying is used to train military aircrew and low flying by military aircraft is carried out across all of the UK but isn’t usually allowed in areas around airports, or towns and cities with populations of more than 10,000 people. There are 20 separate Low Flying Areas (LFAs) and also Tactical Training Areas (TTAs). One of the hairiest is the Mach Loop, the low-level routes in Welsh Wales. The Mach Loop is a set of valleys, situated between Dolgellau in the north, and Machynlleth in the south (and from which the Mach Loop gets its name) which are regularly used for low level flight training, with flying as low as 250 feet (76 metres) from the nearest terrain like the sides of the valley!
http://machloop.co.uk/ is the official site of Mach Loop. Great site where you can see Tornadoes strafing Kevin’s house.
For more information the CAA Safety Sense Leaflet Number 18 - Military Low Flying can be downloaded from
http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=33&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=detail&id=2586 The timetables for some of the activities are at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/operational-low-flying-training-timetable.
Oh here’s the Official CAA take on SERA
Just in case you thought you’d read all about Vera’s sister Sera this is the press release published by the CAA on February 5th. We wanted a hattrick. Enjoy.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today gave an update on the UK’s implementation of the Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) and said that it is working with the European Commission, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and UK Department for Transport (DfT) to conclude the work.
The UK’s exemption from SERA allowing existing arrangements for flying clear of cloud within controlled airspace has been extended. An exemption from certain Special VFR requirements contained within SERA has also been put in place. The UK is now working with EASA and other European partners such as the Commission to develop proposals to enable these arrangements to continue in the long-term. The CAA also confirmed that glider flying and parachuting within Class A airspace will still be possible where there are agreements with air traffic control. The exemptions run until 4 August 2015 and mean that;
The UK’s existing ‘clear of cloud’ rule governing flight in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) within Class C, D and E airspace continues and that Air traffic Control will be able to issue a Special VFR clearance, within a control zone, when the ground visibility at the reporting aerodrome is below the specified SERA criteria, to aircraft flying away from the affected aerodrome and able to be flown either under a Special VFR clearance or in VMC.
On 2 April 2015 the UK will complete the move from quadrantal to semi circular cruising levels. This change affects pilots flying under instrument flight rules outside controlled airspace below flight level 195 (FL195), but higher than 3,000ft above mean sea level, as semicircular cruising levels have been used in controlled airspace for many years. The timescale for this change has been extended to allow a safe transition to the new arrangements. CAA Head of Intelligence, Strategy and Policy, Padhraic Kelleher, said: “We welcome the very pragmatic approach that EASA and the Commission have taken. This means that as we draw the UK’s implementation of SERA to a close the UK’s position and the needs of our airspace users have been fully taken into account.” Detailed information can be found on the CAA’s SERA web pages at www.caa.co.uk/sera.
Couple of rare visitors - dark secrets?
We finally got the chance to inflate a couple of envelopes last week that have been awaiting love for a while. First we had Vic Trimble’s Durex balloon G-DURX up and wobbling about complete with every pun and connutation you care to think of. It is surprisingly good despite a fair dose of mildew and being silver should fly forever on a mini-Worthington. Its just being transitioned at the moment so will most probably be on the Zebedee List soon. There are more than a few great stories associated with this balloon and it will be sold with a heap of memorabilia including the famous poster of it in the hand of the Cerne Abbas giant. Nuff said. The other and very convoluted storied G-JONO (1) came up for air. There is a fair amount of folk-lore and legend surrounding this balloon and we are busy trying to work out the story. Basically though this one was built but was rejected for seriously wobbly loadtapes (which it has down the bottom half). Another identical one was built and delivered and did a respectable 300+ hours before retiring. JONO 1 was then allegedly destined for Ireland but never got there remaining in a container in Oswestry for years. Evidence found on the envelope would suggest that it has actually done a ‘few’ hours and the top been rebuilt however the logbook only shows a couple of hours and as we know they never lie! So quite what the story is remains a mystery for the moment but we have some ideas. Both JONO 1 and 2 are in the care of the British Balloon Museum & Library and were seen briefly at last years Inflation Day.
Err Umm take note PPL candidates
The BBAC’s Training Officer recently sent out a reminder to all examiners reminding them (as reminders tend to do) that the General Flight Test and written examinations for the UK Private Pilots’ Licence (Balloons) can only be conducted in the English Language without the use of an interpreter.
New email address for DFDS English Channel ferry discount
DFDS have changed the email address for reservation requests and to get the 20% discount available through the British Balloon & Airship club Member Discount Scheme. The new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. For details of sailings please go to the DFDS website at http://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/. Any problems, please contact Dave Such by email email@example.com For more details on the offer see http://www.easyballoons.co.uk/2014/12/22/news-22-12-14/
New Towing laws - bit more sensible
At last the Driving Licence people have seen sense and revised the regulations in connection with what you can and cannot tow behind your Astravan! For those of us lucky enough to have taken our car test before 1 January 1997 you are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM. MAM stands for Maximum Authorised Mass, bit like Gross Vehicle Weight I expect. Whatever, this is the weight of a vehicle and/or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road. Bit confusing but the total weight generally refers to the actual total permissible weight added together of the vehicle and trailer. You also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM. If you want to tow heavier combinations, you’ll have to first apply for provisional entitlement to the new C1+E entitlement. You’ll then have to pass the category C theory test and C1+E practical test. Once you’ve done this you can drive vehicles and trailers with a combined weight of up to 12 tonnes MAM.
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM. Additionally you can tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg. For anything heavier you need to take a category B+E driving test.
From 19 January 2013, drivers passing a category B (car and small vehicle) test can tow small trailers weighing no more than 750kg or a trailer over 750kg as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM). If you want to tow a trailer weighing more than 750kg, when the combined weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is more than 3,500kg, you’ll have to pass a further test and get B+E entitlement on your licence. You’ll then be able to tow trailers up to 3,500kg. For more information go to https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-car but sometimes it doesn’t work. That’ll be a helpful Government thing then.
Grass Roots goes live - later date planned
Invitations have now gone out to those wishing to join the ever popular Grass Roots Meet that have already registered an interest. Please note that this isn’t an invitation meet and if you’d like to go along you would be most welcome whether you have a balloon or not, can crew, fly model balloon or just want to come and get involved. Once again Ultramagic UK have very kindly continued with their sponsorship. The format for this years’ meet will be similar to previous years, but in a break from tradition the first attempt for the event will be made on the second weekend of September (11th-13th) to avoid clashing with the Chatsworth Meet which now falls on the first weekend of September. So, start booking your crews as Team Sackville are looking forward to seeing you all. The entry form should be on the website along with further information and updates. There may even a countdown clock like what they have for Metz but don’t hold your breath! www.grassrootsballooning.org.uk.
Cross London Flight Announced
Exclusive Ballooning have great pleasure in announcing that they are looking to undertake a mass Cross London balloon flight later this year. The flight will be a 100% charitable event raising funds for the Lord Mayor's Appeal. More details will follow and entrants will be given space on a first come first served basis. In the first instance, please register on their website now http://www.balloonsoverlondon.com
Ballooning Youth Camp dates announced
Once again the very popular International Ballooning Youth Camp (IYC) is taking place in Radesin, Czech Republic between 8th and 15th August. This is the weekend after Metz finishes so if you are already on the Continent keep going. There is a choice however as the Czech Nationals immediately precede IYC at the same location so maybe we could have a winner there. Of course, as Tom Hilditch points out, you could spend some days flying in Germany, experiencing gas ballooning in Gladbeck or stay on at Chambley a little while longer. The registration is now available online and is open to the younger fraternity who fancy going to a balloon meet without their parents. Having a balloon or a licence is not mandatory as there is plenty of opportunity to go flying and crewing with people their own age from around the world. For more information and an invite
New date for Pennine Region Fly-out
As they had to cancel their planned fly-out from Field Lane, Farnley Tyas on 15th February the Pennine Region have set to have another crack at it on either 15th or 22nd of March. This is a great area to fly with very few Sensitive Areas and lots of lovely and pretty much unknown countryside. Apparently everyone thinks of Huddersfield as dark satanic mills, cloth caps and whippets (Jane’s dad was born there and he does). Well Elaine Smith, for one, loves to walk her whippet in the beautiful fresh air after a long day down t' mill. Now if I call there used to be a great pub on Castle Hill but it got knocked down. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07974 316123
Possible new venue for Sperrins Meet
Fancy a trip to Northern Ireland to take part in the Sperrins Meet. This is a fantastic area to fly and the people very friendly. It is looking hopeful that the venue this year will be from the Duke of Abercorn’s Baronscourt Estate and held, most likely, during the first week in June. Some of the guys flew from there last year and said it was a great place. The final details and date is yet to be finalised but if you fancy a taster have a look at the Website of the Dukes rather grand pad at http://barons-court.com/.
Contact details for Tom Donnelly
It was sadness that we learnt last year that Tom Donnelly, who has been around around balloons since for ever, was in hospital this summer suffering from vascular dementia. He retired from ballooning some years ago now and sold his York-based Ride business to Kim Hull’s Adventure Balloons group. He has now been moved from his home in Sprotborough and is being cared for in Wells, Somerset close to Auburn Angas who now holds lasting Power of Attorney. “Many years ago she met Tomo at the original Thunder Balloons workshop in London where Auburn had an office in the same building and complained about them bouncing balloon envelopes down the staircase of the building. An attempt to reconcile the matter down the local pub ended up with Auburn and Tom joining forces, a matter that was given great importance by virtue of the fact that the only balloon launch site in those days was at Newbury and ‘Auburn’s family come from Newbury’. Tomo’s daughter Kate is living in Bristol so also gets across regularly I understand,” reports Kim. Auburn says that the condition means that although Tomo remembers little of current events he still has a great memory for the show circuit days. If you wish to contact him or are in the area at any time you are apparently most welcome to pop in or if you want to try sending him some old and rusty pictures or a card then you can email him at email@example.com. Auburn can be contacted at, The Lantern House, Penn Place, South Street, Wells, BA5 1DS telephone 01749 689 069
Mountbatten School Fly-out ends
Richard Cardy sadly reports that Digital 21st Event and Hot Air Balloon Services, organisers of the Mountbatten School Hot Air Balloon Fly-out, met with Lesley Johnson of the Mountbatten School Community Office to view the school playing fields, firsty to see the significant changes there from the construction work that kept 2014's event from taking place and if they were still suitable to be used for this years event. New Astro-turf pitches have been installed as well as high floodlights along with power and telephone cables to the South which not only dramatically reduce the required area for inflation and launches, but limit flights to one direction and only there were pitch perfect conditions. This and the height of the new floodlights means there is no room for error. Richard said that, “We have sadly made the decision to now abandon any further attempts to put this event on. We would like to however thank all those that have assisted us since 2011, prior to the Diamond Jubilee event (See June 2012 Aerostat) and assisted us for 2013 (Washed out) 2014 and of course 2015. We would like to the School also for their permission to use the facilities made available to us. THANK YOU ALL.” The Facebook page will be kept up until the end of May 2015 and then it will be taken down.
CAA approves Controlled Airspace for Southend
Ed Lubbock of the London Region BBAC reports that the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has now confirmed its approval of a request from London Southend Airport to establish controlled airspace (CAS) around the airport. However, the extent of the CAS originally requested has been reduced following assessment work carried out by the CAA. Southend’s new airspace will be Class D, allowing access on request to transiting general aviation aircraft. It will feature a control zone (CTR) around the airport itself from surface up to 3,500ft, and a larger control area (CTA) from 1,500ft to 3,500ft. The airspace will become operational on 2 April 2015. The CAA agreed with the Airport that the measure was necessary to further enhance the protection given to commercial air transport flights into and out of Southend. The number of Airprox incidents in the vicinity of the airport has increased in recent years including two category A incidents, the most serious. Alternatives to controlled airspace, such as establishing a Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ) around the airport, were considered, but a trial RMZ running since the second half of 2014 has proved not to be an appropriate long-term solution in this instance.
London Southend Airport, which currently sits within Class G airspace, has seen a significant increase in commercial air transport movements in the last three years. In accordance with the CAA's airspace change process, the Airport launched a consultation on establishing CAS with the general aviation community and the aviation industry, before submitting its proposal to the CAA. Mark Swan, Director of the CAA’s Safety and Airspace Regulation Group, said “The new arrangements at Southend will safely support the airport's increased commercial air transport operations, whilst minimizing, as far as possible, the impact on other airspace users. Ultimately, this is a very busy piece of airspace, used by a wide range of aircraft, and we have to be sure that the safety of airline passengers is given absolute priority.”
The new airspace will be reviewed six months after implementation to ensure that it is working as anticipated.
The London Region BBAC had extensive talks with Southend ATC and have a good rapport with the controllers. Ed Lubbock who headed up the talks does not anticipate problems with the new airspace restrictions. Until now balloons have always called on a landline prior to take off if they were likely to be flying towards their airspace and that has worked very well. Contact numbers are available on the London Region website at www.londonballooning.co.uk which will be updated with the latest information within the next few days. Providing the controllers are aware of your intentions they do have a very tolerant attitude towards balloons and it is not anticipated that there will be problems. The full decision, including charts has also been published by the CAA.
http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/2111/20150128%20Southend%20ACP%20Decision%20Letter%20v6.pdf. For updates follow the CAA on www.twitter.com/UK_CAA.
And finally - The Ones that didn’t get away
So what? Yet another proposal.
Well that’s the thing, most proposals in balloons are made by passengers, in fact that is what the majority of exclusive for two flights are all about. So you get a couple intent on proposing and as the pilot you rather hope all will go to plan, which sometimes it doesn’t and you end up with two people looking out each side of the basket but still wanting their hour. Bummer. So imagine the surprise of those aboard a balloon flight when the pilot proposes to his loved one and drops a couple of thousand feet before the decision is made. So that’s what happened to Andy Kaye when he proposed to Tina McAvoy during an Earlybird flight over Melbourne. “Well matey,” Andy confessed,”I called for clearance from Clarence at the airport to FL85 before popping the question and the passengers ears. I kind of thought it would be prudent just in case things didn’t go to plan. As it was I didn’t drop the ring down the back of a V40 and managed to get the right answer by 1200 feet.”
Congratulations to them both.
Messerfag and the barn find of the century
Now since we put up the article on ‘Snafu and the Nose Art of the B-17 Flying Fortress’ we have had a rake of mails and interest. Seems that there are even more ‘Snafus’ than we even thought. Add the ones that aren’t B-17s and it goes viral. It prompted the question in the pub though that, ‘Did the Germans use nose art?’ Well blow me down they did. Anyone that has been loaned the company body-warmer (ex Polaroid balloon jacket) will have noticed that it has a B&H poking out between its teeth. Having come upon the Messerschmitt 109 piccie it seems then that the Germans did use nose art and had a sense of humour. Now we also came across a news item that six of the Spanish built 109s used in the 1969 film ‘Battle of Britain’ have turned up in Texas, USA. Apparently after filming ended, the remaining Messerschmitts ended up with Texas oil billionaire and warbird enthusiast, 80 year old, Wilson 'Connie' Edwards after he was given them as payment for his work in the film. Back in November they were sold for an estimated £4 million to Swiss company Boschung Global Ltd including the only surviving factory two-seater Messerschmitt ME 109. Two are to be restored and the other four sold on. After the war the Spanish continued building them using the Merlin engine, the four-bladed prop is a giveaway don’t you know. If you watch the film you will also notice that the former Spanish Heinkels were also Merlin powered. Now that isn’t so surprising as the first Me109s used the Rolls Royce Kestrel as the Jumo 210 inverted V12 engine wasn’t available in sufficient numbers. Judging by the mountains of engines and spares rumours that the film company actually bought 50 Messerschmitts, 32 Heinkels along with 33 Spitfires and Hurricanes are probably true. 1969? Messerscchmitt, Spitfire? Can’t give them away mate.
Airborne estate agents - chalet spotting
Who are these two cosy souls then? None other than the only Estate Agent we don’t take the rise out of, Mark Whitewood, and Richard Penney, the UK’s Ultramagic man. Now say what you like it seems that Ultramagic continue to come up with novel practical ideas. This then is them being treated to the rather plushy executive four person Vista basket which offers seating and fold down tables and a low side to the basket affording better vision. At last the EASA bollix that they applied to balloons is justified. ‘Please ensure your seats are in the upright position, seatbelts fastened and tray folded away’. We only need blinds open and the cabin lights dimmed and we’ll have an airliner. Now I want a go in one of them. Actually I quite fancy doing pax rides with one of them.
Download Ultramagic Flight Manual Supplement 48 “CV” Vista baskets from http://www.ultramagic.com/balloons/kobe-1-es-Soporte-T%C3%A9cnico-s34_109.html
I am not one to go sending stuff that I think may be of interest as I get to stick it all on here so as a diversion from researching Victorian sail trains I decided it was high time to try and find a copy of a short film made back in 1989 that was truly hilarious. Directed by Martin Barry and produced in Montreal by the National Film Board of Canada Juke-Bar chalked up quite a few awards including the Genie Award for Best Animated Short at the 11th Genie Awards, along with the Special Jury Award and Public's Award at the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films, then it got the Silver Hugo in the Animation category at the Chicago International Film Festival and added the best short film awards at the Carrousel International du Film de Rimouski and the Montreal World Film Festival. May have got that because it was made in Canada and funded by them but I digress. It’s a stop-go cartoon type film with real people as well. Must have taken ages to make. If you are not into cockroach infestation then its not for you but if you enjoyed the characters in the Mad Max movies then it will fair make you chuckle.