Balloon Repair Station

News 15.03.15

In case you missed it bits
Just in case you didn’t pick up the recent News Updates of 25.02.15 and 05.03.15 here they are. If you have then please just skip them however we have expanded the Cameron Flight Manual updates a bit.

CAP 747 Link updated shock horror
So there we were gaily clicking away and quoting this and that then being told that the CAP 747 amendment number was now 02, which we have already reported on because of the revisions in November 2014 which now mean that CAP 747 now provides a single source of mandatory information for continuing airworthiness as issued by the CAA but their point of reference to us appeared to still show it as 2014/01. Which is a long continuous sentence I think you’ll agree! Airworthiness Directives for Annex II aircraft published in CAP 476 are now included, those Airworthiness Directives issued by EASA have been removed and are available on the EASA website apparently but the CAA didn’t have appeared to have updated the site and then a very nice person said the link had changed which explained everything. Be nice if someone had put that in the press release! So please make sure if you using a link it is upto date. It should now be http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=33&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=detail&id=6515

Cameron and T&C parachute grab testing
Following on from the British Balloon & Airship Club’s Inspectors’ Day and following much discussion and a qualifying statement from Cameron Balloons’ Craig Moore, here is the definitive answer to the grab test requirement for parachute edges on Thunder & Colt and Cameron balloons. Currently it is worded in the Maintenance Manual, Issue 10-3 as, 'For Cameron Balloons and Bristol Built T&C balloons (CN3445 and subsequent) the outer area of the parachute panel between the panel edge & the velcro tabs needs only to be grab tested to 21lb (9.5 kg) for the parachute to be fully airworthy'. Many can be forgiven for mis-interpreting this to mean that Cameron and T&C balloons after construction number CN3445 are the ones that can have the lower figure applied however what it actually means is that ALL Cameron balloons can have the lower figure applied and Bristol built T&C balloons with a construction number of CN3445 or higher can also benefit from the lower grab test figure including passenger ride balloons. Thus spake Craig Moore who we blamed for the poor grammar and suggested he reads ‘Eats, shoots and leaves’ but he was quick to point the finger at Barrie Bower, bless. Whatever, they will take a squint at the problem next time they amend the Maintenance Manual.

Updates to Cameron Flight Supplements announced 05.03.15
Camerons have updated the following Flight Manual Supplements. To save you trolling through them this is a brief summary of the changes. If you use any of the equipment listed then you are strongly advised to update the flight supplement if you are using Flight Manual Issue10. If you are relying on an older Flight Manual then to benefit from the updates then you will need to download Flight Manual Issue 10-8 as well. If you are already confused then please drop us a mail or call. The changes are pretty much confined to sorting out and clarifying information and the lists and will make life a fair bit easier. For users of the Duo Chariot there have been some welcome additions to the equipment list and the Millenium hopper gets some well overdue flying wire assembly instructions, additional safety notes and a requirement to use 25mm jackets on aluminium cylinders. Nothing dramatic and all for the best. To download click on the link or go to Cameron’s website www.cameronballoons.co.uk and go to .

Supplement 1: Special Shapes 10-8-1 Iss 29
Different approval information at top and more pages. Better, more concise burner requirements. Addition of Drop-180 shape to master list.
http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/uploads/Approved%20Modifications/Support%20Files/Flight%20and%20Maintenance%20Manuals/English/i10-8-1-Iss29%20Master.pdf

Supplement 8: Schroader Bottom Ends 10-8-8 Iss 7
Different approval information at top with more pages (intentionally blank page at the end added!). Minimum burner configuration changes, basket burner exception in the Basket/Burner list. Equipment list expanded. Optima IV triple listed as Category 3 burner for cross referencing.
http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/uploads/Approved%20Modifications/Support%20Files/Flight%20and%20Maintenance%20Manuals/English/i10-8-8-Iss7%20Master.pdf

Supplement 13: Duo Airchair 10-8-13 Iss4
Different approval information at top and, yes, more pages. Duo Chariot burner range expanded. CB8414 H40 horizontal cylinder added
http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/uploads/Approved%20Modifications/Support%20Files/Flight%20and%20Maintenance%20Manuals/English/i10-8-13-Iss4%20Master.pdf

Update to Cameron Supplement 14: Cloudhopper Millennium 10-8-14 Iss5
Following the latest safety trend there are now more pages. Some specifics include the requirement that all aluminium cylinders must be fitted with 25mm outer, water resistant, protective layer at least 25mm thick made from structural cellular foam or similar material, emergency climb instructions using main and whisper burners simultaneously and pilot light failure instructions have been added. ‘WARNING: do not use the igniter built into the burner, as it will not ignite the fuel’. Hmmm wonder if that is what they meant to say? Light the burner with a match or other igniter. There is also a basket (seat) and burner rigging clarification including a table of flying wire arrangements which is long overdue. Nice one. An addition to the Pre-Take off checks is also there, ‘ensure frame locking pins correctly fitted and secure’. To download the novella here is the link or visit www.cameronballoons.co.uk and click on the button.
http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/uploads/Approved%20Modifications/Support%20Files/Flight%20and%20Maintenance%20Manuals/English/i10-8-14-Iss5%20Master.pdf

Supplement 21: Special Baskets 10-8-21 Iss20
Different approval information at top more pages. Burner frame compatability list clarified. Information is now more specific.
http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/uploads/Approved%20Modifications/Support%20Files/Flight%20and%20Maintenance%20Manuals/English/i10-8-21-Iss20%20Master.pdf

Supplement 22: Out of Production Burners 10-8-22 iss4
Different approval information at top more pages Equipment list tied up and clarified.
http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/uploads/Approved%20Modifications/Support%20Files/Flight%20and%20Maintenance%20Manuals/English/i10-8-22-Iss4%20Master.pdf

Now the gossipy bit

Ultramagic coming undone
Maillion rapidos or Quicklinks, depending which side of the Channel you are from, do have a tendancy to come undone and no more so than the little blighters fitted to Ultramagic Balloons. We have raised this point with them before but still we find the Quicklinks undone or loose on the parachute pulley to rigging lines and, where fitted, on the flying wires on Ultramagic envelopes. Now I don’t know what the problem is as, although it isn’t unheard of, its seldom the problem occurs on any other manufacturer’s envelopes. It can’t be that difficult, most of their envelopes only have one Quicklink in them, the one on the parachute pulley and you don’t really need that falling off. A dollop of decent Loctite will do the job. Please use it. We recently had a very low houred example (about 15hrs) which had been inspected (non-UK) five hours before and the pulley Quicklink was undone to the point of being open. Two things spring to mind then. Why didn’t the pilot notice it on the pre-flight check and why wasn’t it picked up on the inspection? In fairness to Ultramagic they do make repeated mention of the Quicklink in their Maintenance and Flight Manuals and Maintenance Manual Supplement 3.

In the Maintenance Manual, at ‘2.12.11 Quick Links’
These are used in the parachute release line attachment to the pulley and are vital parts to maintain control of the balloon. Only Ultramagic supplied parts are allowed. Another reference at ‘6.1 A-type Pre-Flight Inspection’ at note 6 - Check Ensure that all pulleys and loops are well attached and are working freely and repeated at note 3 in the Annual 100hr B-Check. '6.6.2 Inspection requirements' under ‘Pulleys’, These must be securely attached and should not be damaged.

In Maintenance Manual Supplement 3 Iss.2 ‘Quick links for flying wires’ at 2.1 ‘Flying wire replacement’. Section 2.9 defines the method of Flying Wire Replacement and draws attention to the need that the screw gate of the quick link must be fixed in the closed position using Loctite. NOTE the requirement to use Loctite, and then following on in the Preventative Maintenance Section 3.1- ‘General’. The wire attachment should be subjected to a pilot/owner periodic preventative maintenance check and preventative maintenance measures implemented if necessary. It is recommended that the period between inspections is once every 10 hours operation, whichever is the sooner. The checks must incorporate the areas detailed below. Ensure that the Quick Links are kept free from dirt or grit so as to prevent an excessive build up of abrasive material. Check that the Quick Link screw gate is securely closed. So check your Ultramagic Quicklink today.

The Unpronounceable Meet
An invitation to the Ist Krzyżowa Balloon Festival 2015 to be held in Poland over 8-10 May promises a combination of a balloon fiesta and competition flying. Some very famous Polish and American pilots have already signed up. The intention, apparently, is to organise competitions and a balloon festival at the same time with the aim is of integrating balloons from Polish, German, Czech, other EU countries and the US. The very reasonable entry fee of €100 for pilot plus two (€150 pilot plus three) guarantees, half-board accommodation, LPG and great fun. The event will centre around the Palace of the Cross, the historic site of the Reconciliation Mass held between Helmut Kohl and Tadeusz Mazowiecki in 1989 following the opening of the East German Border and fall of the Berlin Wall. For more details contact the Event Director, Krzysztof Zapart, through the website. Happily its in English http://balloonfestival-swidnica.pl

Cameron Maintenance Course - places limited
5 cameron CourseDates for the next Cameron Maintenance Course are 15-17 April and will be held at their Bedminster, Bristol, factory. Being popular with both with UK and overseas balloonists and with limited places it usually fills up pretty quickly. The Cameron Balloons Maintenance Course is ideal and beneficial for existing or training pilots, balloon operators, Civil Aviation authority personnel, Cameron Balloons representatives and for experienced balloonists who would like to refresh their balloon maintenance skills. The course is run by Cameron Balloons staff, overseen by Lindsay Sadler their Production Director. The three day course costs £384.00. A non-refundable deposit of £144 per person will secure you a place but please note, all places are on a first-come-first-served basis. On completion of the course attendees will receive a Cameron Balloons certificate listing the level and skills you have attained. The course covers basic permitted maintenance using a practical hands-on approach to the topics covered by the Cameron Balloons Maintenance Manual. It is important to note though that this does not permit any certificate holders to be an approved inspector nor an approved repair station. Course study materials and practice equipment will be provided by Cameron Balloons Ltd. Buffet lunches each day are included in the course fee. If you are planning on attending then it is advised that you brush up by reading the latest Cameron Balloons & Flight Maintenance Manual (10-3) which is available online at www.cameronballoons.co.uk. For the course to run a minimum of 6 candidates are required with a maximum of 12 per course. (Groups of 6 per workshop). Although accommodation is not included Camerons are happy to provide suggestions about local accommodation. To book onto the course, please contact their Sales department telephone +44 (0)117 963 7216 or drop them an email at sales@cameronballoons.co.uk.

Newbury Balloon Festival announced
Well here’s a thing. Already home to the popular fly-out from the Newbury Show the Newbury Showground is set to become what is planned to be the largest free event in the Thames Valley, the Newbury Balloon Festival, and will run from 17th - 19th July. The 3-4-40 BBAC will be assisting with all Balloon operations over the weekend and will be working closely with the organisers. Flying will take place on Friday PM, Saturday AM & PM, Sunday AM & PM with Nightglows on the Friday & Saturday evenings. The Newbury Balloon Festival are delighted announce that that Free Propane, Camping, Breakfast & Evening meals will be made available to balloonists participating over the weekend. A refundable entry fee is planned. Further ballooning information including registration will be made available soon on the event website. Well goodness me, best book the weekend then. The official Facebook page for the Newbury Balloon can be found at https://www.facebook.com/newburyballoons and the website which is continuing to be developed but already full of stuff is at http://www.newburyballoons.com/

Indian Visas - problems getting worse
If you are planning a trip to India beware that the already rather complicated procedure to get a Visa, if you live in the UK, has just got worse and will most likely get even worserer. Despite over 50 countries now being offered an ‘on sight’ visa at the Indian port of entry the UK remains excluded. Under the new regulations visas can now only be obtained via a face-to-face interview at a very limited number of locations following an online application. Indian visa applications are handled by a third party service provider. This can be done currently entirely on-line and by post, or by a visit to a centre, by appointment or just turning up with all the necessary paperwork which will probably be wrong! The web site is very cumbersome and you will probably loose the will to live let alone visit the place. Having said that the process can go swimmingly well if you actually provide what is asked for and very importantly, the correct sized photograph. Tip here in that the London Office has a photobooth that takes the correct sized ones. When we went out a few years ago we used the London office and all went well but for others it can be a long drawn out process so you need to apply as far in advance as possible.

BBAC AGM just about votes in new President
I missed this year’s BBAC AGM but our Jane went and reported that it was a BBAC AGM so not that much to report. There was a good turnout which cheered the Committee and the social side went well as it was held, for the last time, in the large NFU Mutual meeting room rather than the cramped Lectutre Theatre. Almost all the questions directed to the Committee were answered by the Chairman Ian Hooker which didn’t impress. A very popular award went to Sue Barley, the lovely lady that makes sure everything happens and is there and generally 'does' on behalf of the NFU. The Adam Sparkes Trophy was very deservedly presented to young Dominic Bareford and the pretigious Charles Green Salver went to the Dante Group for their long running commitment to the Icicle Meet. Sue Kidd baked a cake to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the BBAC and it was lovely. Highlight of the day however was the nomination of a new President following the untimely death last year of Anthony Smith. It did appear that the Main Committee (all still there) had decided that Don Cameron should be the new President, and nothing wrong with that choice, however they appeared rather surprised when Steve Roake proposed Robin Batchelor. A vote of sorts was taken and Don declared the winner. There was some discussion amongst the audience though that perhaps the count had not been as thorough as it may have been but most were happy enough with Don as President and, now its all official, Robin Batchelor has been made a Vice-President joining Don Piccard, David Liddiard, Neil Robertson, Norman Apsey, Nigel Tasker, Pete Bish and Tom Sage. Congratulations to them both.

Auster moment at the Goodwood Revival
4 G-AKSY Steve FarrantSteve Farrant popped by the other day and we got onto the subject of Austers. Just so happens they are my favourite aeroplane and he actually owns an actual genuine WW2 example that saw active service and is all painted up in RAF camouflage. Since acquiring it it has had not a few mechanical problems which has caused him a bit of grief on and off but is now in tip top condition, so much so that last year he flew it around the coast with his brother-in-law. Fortunately he kindly agreed to let us have a copy of the article, that they wrote ‘Two old men and an even olderAuster fly around the British Coastline’ which is elsewhere. More to the point though is that having flown into Goodwood for the annual Auster gathering and flown a Goodwood main man in formation with another WW2 example all painted up with D-Day markings he secured an invitation to the Goodwood Revival and, all dressed for the part, had a marvellous time.

70 years young to talk at London Region Meet
2 Ray WoodcockOn Wednesday March 25th March seventy year old Ray Woodcock has agreed to come along to London Region Balloon Club Meeting to prove that life definitely continues after 70. Having completed a 30,000 foot freefall amongst other rather hairy exploits he is now considering turning his attention to a balloon record. The meeting is at The Sekforde Arms at 34 Sekforde Street, London, EC1R 0HA (Clerkenwell) and kicks off about 7.30pm. Have to see if we can get an Awayday. Further details on the pub can be found at www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/81/8164/Sekforde_Arms/Clerkenwell
An bit about Ray’s freefall jump can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-20410321

RAF Fairford Mid-Air Collision Programme
Well I had to read this twice. Are they planning some mid-air collisions? No. Its about not having them. Have they had some then? No, the real name of this is actually the ‘Mid-Air Collision Avoidance Programme’ and, as it involves aviation, it is officially known as MACA not to be confused with Paul McCartney. This is the initiative of John Edmonds the Flight Safety Manager at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. Whether this is civilian or military post we have no clues but his primary responsibility is to ensure a safe flying environment for both military and civilian aviators who use the airspace surrounding RAF Fairford. In this pursuit his office has created a ‘Mid-Air Collision Avoidance Pamphlet’ for distribution to all civilian aviators in the United Kingdom who transit Fairford’s airspace. John explained that, “Only as a community can we ensure the continued and safe operation of aircraft in the Oxford Area of Intense Aerial Activity. If you have any questions or suggestions to improve our MACA program, please contact me. I thank you for your concern for aviation safety.” Using our powers of detection, in the original release John actually spelt programme wrong ( we corrected it) and signs off with ‘Fly Safe’ and as Fairford is home to 422nd Air Base Group we reckon he is probably American. This is a busy area and with more activity than normal on account of the Russians and the Middle East stuff meaning there’s probably lots of Stealthy stuff whizzing about so it is for the good that they have drawn General Avaition’s attention to the possibility of conflict. Actually the online pamplet which can be downloaded is full of really useful information including Fairford circuit details and details of the aircraft that regularily use it which, they tell us, include B1s, B2 and U2s plus the B-52 (all of which should give way to balloons actually). It is a really, really interesting document and well worth the read. Well done Mr John A Edmonds. John can be contacted by email at john.edmonds.1@us.af.mil and the pamphlet, which does seem to take a while to open, can be viewed at www.501csw.usafe.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-150220-002.pdf Highly Recommended.

Jumping out of Hot Air Airships?
6 airship jumpWhat will they think of next. Coincidence or what but following on from the piece we ran about parachuting out of balloons, Aachen-based Gefa-Flug, manufacturers of extremely successful hot air airships, have now got approval to drop parachutists from them. No changes or modifications are required to the gondola just adhere to the details in the Technical Note. Main man Mucky Busemeyer explained that this is a great thing for Gefa-Flug as it opens up a whole new dimension of the possibilities for the operation of their airships. With a range of airships that includes a six-seater they have now been designing and building hot air airships for over 30 years. Not sure how many they have built to date but I bet its loads. As it happens their latest six-seater is going to Arabia to be used for skydiving, so if that’s your passion best you save some pennies and trot off there. Gefa-Flug’s website is at www.gefa-flug.de/ and is available in both German and English. For airship buffs they produce an occasional on-line flyer called ‘Airmail’. Now I’m thinking, how about a combined airship and parachutist competition? Blow me down look what’s next…………

And while we are about it – The Airship Championships
The First Open German Airship Championships which took place between 30th January and the 5th February saw ten airships competing in a variety of complicated and less complicated tasks. For those that witnessed the event it was pretty spectacular with an incredible amount of very accurate and skilful flying taking place. Hot-air airships are really quite demanding things to fly and when they go head to head it is something to behold. The eventual winner was Andreas Pohl flying the Team Warsteiner GEFA AS105GD/4. There is the most brilliant bit of amazingly busy airships whizzng about the place time-lapse film of the event at www.airship-cup.de.

Stolen Ultramagic fan
7 UM fan Andy AustinPlease be on the lookout for a missing Ultramagic Hopper fan. Sad news is that Andy Austin’s secure storage was broken into by Pikeys. Apart from taking all his misuses Pony and Trap kit they also half-inched his Ultramagic Hopper fan. These are pretty unique little fans featuring a three-bladed propeller. If you see one advertised under unlikely circumstances please let Andy know however they’ve probably had it away for the engine. If you hear about any driving tack or jackets going cheap, again please let him know.

Cameron Sales Manager - Internal Appointment
Following the departure of Colin Wolstenholme from the Sales Office at Cameron Balloons,craig moore mending tent and a bright and breezy job vacancy being listed for a new sales person to the ballooning fraternity at large, Camerons have sought to choose from within and it is now confirmed that Craig Moore has now been appointed as the new Sales Manager. Craig has been largely responsible for Quality Control in his role as Technical Director and a fine job he has made of it. We wish him all the best in his new role. www.cameronballoons.co.uk

Prestwick Spaceport plans revealed
In an article in BT News dated 9th March it seems that the under-used, Scottish Government owned, Prestwick Airport has announced its intentions to become the British centre for space activities alongside Newquay in Cornwall, Llanbedr in Wales and Campbeltown, Scotland as part of a UK Government programme to select a UK Space Centre which runs until October. The chosen facility will become a launch station for the next-generation of satellites and space instruments using the modern generation of horizontal take-off space launch vehicles. It is also hoped that it will become an operating base for manned flights using reusable space craft such as those being developed by Virgin Galactic and XCOR. It is expected that the Spaceport will become a major hub for companies involved in the space industry. As they are stuffing through HS2 through our valley maybe we ought to apply. They can use the straight bit of track down the Aylesbury Vale launch the spaceships. Probably have to widen Rocky Lane though. www.glasgowprestwick.com

The Eastern Region Re-born
The Eastern Region Balloon Club which ceased to exist a couple of years ago has been resurrected thanks to Jo Scott. The first AGM was held on 1st February and at the BBAC AGM on 8th March Jo will took all the documentation to the main BBAC AGM to seek advice for affiliation. They have already ticked many of the boxes. A meet at Stonham Barns http://stonham-barns.co.uk is already scheduled for later in the year. No details yet of which pub will form the venue for monthly meetings yet but certainly as the region is really potentially quite large its future seems assured.

The next great trip-flying with the sun
Thanks to Jeff Roberts we here that following on from the Two Eagles flight across the Pacific and Benni Eimers 1,000 km Sunday flight the next adventure you can follow on line is a round the world flight in a solar powered aircraft. Bertrand Piccard having flown around the world in a balloon with Brian Jones is now taking on a RTW flight with Andre Borschering in their solar aircraft Solar Impulse 2. The aircraft was transported to Abu Dhabi where it has been reassembled in preparation for the flight where they departed on 9th of March. It will not be a non stop flight, information of the route has been announced as follows; ‘Si2 will take-off from Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirate, in late February or early March and return by late July or early August 2015. The route includes stops in Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, Mandalay, Myanmar (where they’ll pop round to see Phil Dunnington for a cuppa) and Chongqing and Nanjing, China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, Si2 will fly across Continental U.S.A. stopping in three locations, Phoenix, and New York City at JFK. A location in the Midwest will be decided dependent on weather conditions. After crossing the Atlantic, the final legs include a stop-over in Southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi’. Let’s hope the sun keeps shining for them. Now we giot chatting about this fantastic ‘green’ adventure and wondered how the camp followers where getting to the next destination. Canoe, pack horses and hiking we reasoned. For all the latest information their website is at http://www.solarimpulse.com/ and naturally they have a Face Book page ‘Solar Impulse’.

Sad news - Dolly the barmaid passed away
Following on from the article on last years Black Horse Easter Meet, ‘Dolly Days and Balloons - Black Horse Easter Meet’, and that it coincided with Wendover celebrating Dorothy ‘Dolly’ May Saville 100th birthday sadly she died on 24/02/15 just short of her 101st birthday. Last year she suffered a fall which meant that her mobility was seriously impaired and she had to give up working. Following a procession down the High Street and a drive through the Red Lion the rather lovely funeral was held on March 12th at St Mary’s, Wendover and the church was full. Her grand-daughter read a very moving and humorous tribute to her including the way she referred to old people and pensioners, often helping those a lot younger than her across the road. Managing Director of Fullers, owners of the Red Lion gave the congregation some amusing insights into Fullers relationship with Dolly and how, when they first took over the pub and were reviewing the staff records, there seemed some confusion and disbelief over the time that Dolly had worked there! As my daughter pointed out I can now go into the Red Lion without getting my ears boxed for being cheeky. Bless you Dolly.

Aerosaurus Balloons not extinct - now even more family run
8 Arthur Street aerosaurusNews just in that Arthur Street has finally retired from commercial ballooning having sold his Exeter-based business Aerosaurus Balloons to Clive Bailey’s long established Bristol operation, Bailey Balloons. The sale does not affect the existing operation of either company and the existing launchsites, websites the contact numbers remain unchanged. Arthur has run Aerosaurus for over 25 years now and the sale to Bailey Balloons will ensure that it will remain a family-run concern. At a recent Balloons over Britain (BOB) meeting Arthur was recognised for his long service to commercial ballooning and thanked for the huge contribution he has made to the industry. We wish him well in whatever new venture he chooses to undertake as it is unlikely he will spend his afternoons watching Timetime or Neighbours. www.ballooning.co.uk/

Bedale dates confirmed
Dates for the popular Bedale Balloon Meet have now been confirmed as the weekend of 19th to 21st June. Once again it will be held at the Bedale Sports and Athletics Club where participants will have use of the clubs facilities for the launch site(s), camping, the clubhouse and bar for Friday night food which remains at a £5 a head so no need to go out driving for bar meals. On the Saturday (times tba) they plan to run the free “balloony sale” again so bring along any balloon related item or items and hopefully someone might like to buy it. Last years items for sale ranged from pins to a basket and many sales were made. Steve Hollingsworth has already entered his collection of balloon memorabilia which includes artwork and books. Gas will be on site in 47kg cylinders at hopefully a really competitive price (still tba). The day will finish with the usual cook your own food barbeque. Balloon entry is £10 per balloon team and you can bring along as many envelopes as you like. (They would like to see more, especially old and rusty ones). Model balloons are free to enter. Camping is £10 for a whole balloon team so if you have four little tents you pay the same price as a group in one big one. The £10 pays for your stay Friday night until Sunday, and Thursday to Monday by request. If you don’t like camping there are a number of excellent guest houses, B & Bs, and a few hotels nearby. Although an invitation meet for more details please contact the Northern Balloon Group’s Richard Bowater at richard.bowater@ntlworld.com

From Gladbeck in Germany to Pau in France
At least that was the intention when on 8th February 2015 Frank Wilbert and Benni Eimersare took off in a hydrogen balloon at 07:30hrs heading for France. There was a live tracker on board and when checked shortly after take-off they were at 18,000 feet traveling at 80 mph! Seems the adventurous pair finally ended up landing at Pau, or at least nearby, after traveling over 1,000 Km. “Just popping out dear, be back later.”

Southend Airspace changes now confirmed
The classification of London Southend Airport will change on 2nd April 2015 from Class G airspace to Class D. As a reminder, Class G airspace is uncontrolled in that any aircraft may use the airspace under The Rules of the Air and although an air traffic service may be available it is not mandated. Class D airspace requires air traffic control clearance to enter the airspace and receipt of an air traffic service is mandatory. On behalf of London Region and the BBAC, negotiations have taken place to implement a Letter of Agreement with regard to hot air balloons. That letter still has to be signed although progress is being made. The present hold up on proceedings is around the actual area covered by the new restrictions and the impact on local launch sites. Co-ordinates have been sent to Lindsay Muir and Graham Hallett and it is hoped that a new OS map will be available soon to clarify the situation.

And Finally - Lights out flight
If you are the only person in the UK not to have heard that there is about to be an eclipse we can actually have9 eclipse-flying a gander at fear not. It will start on 20th March at around 07:41 UTC (GMT) and end at 11:50 UTC (GMT). We’ll get a partial eclipse but Jane’s cousin Miles has gone on a cruise to the Faroes where it will be a full eclipse providing its not cloudy! Rather spookily it coincides with the March Equinox so best watch out for witches and warlocks. More strangely why does UTC stand for Coordinated Universal Time? Its clearly an anagram. Sadly other commitments mean I won’t be able to get airborne in the Cloudhopper for this event but if you get the chance then it ought to be awesome.

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