In case you missed it bits - News Update 12.11.15.
The AOC is dead? - Really?
This goes on a bit especially as we tacked the update to the update on the end.
Well this popped up on Facebook yesterday (11.12.15.), less the question-mark obviously (we did that), from the European Balloon Federation (EBF), so I am told. ‘To all balloonists: The AOC is dead! this has been announced today by Jan Boettcher, responsible for the Air Ops working Group at EASA. This is quite an achievement and I am really proud of EBF work, particularly of the competence and involvement of Phil Dunnington and Karel Abbenes’. I’m personally not sure a Facebook one or two liner is the way to present information of this potential magnitude but then I’m so not whatever! Such a statement is ill-conceived, un-professional, very badly presented and will cause an awful lot of confusion.
Is this good or bad? Historically, Faceache is a bit Daily Mail when it comes to news flashes so is it best take the notice with a bit of salt? At the moment it clearly depends which country you are in and what the final outcome and agreement will be by April 2018 when the NPAs and discussions and debates and EASAness is all completed, but until then the statement appears rather ambiguous. There is also the undiscussed liklihood of the likely increase in fees and requirements levied on CPL holders (or whatever they are called in 2018) by the respective NAAs (National Aviation Authorities).
Now currently there is a very strong move to get everything to do with balloons stuffed in an EASA folder marked ‘Balloons’ and that is already well underway with a panel of supposed ballooning experts involved, including the European Balloon Federation which we don’t seem to be able to find out much about and, as far as we are aware of, you can’t join if you are a mere mortal and don’t really seem to publish reports on their current policies just a broad statement. Forgetting that for a moment all this ‘under one umbrella’ stuff is expected to be implemented by April 2018 and the AOC, Self Declaration subject will simply be one element of it. The EBF are certainly seem dedicated to removing ballooning from the grasp of EASA and, all things considered, this may be broadly, a good thing but do they take a broader view, seek broader representation or be open themselves to debate? Are members of the EBF self-appointed? Is EBF the mouth of ballooning as far as EASA are concerned? Who are the EBF actually representing? Just asking.
We just hope that whatever the outcome of the current EASA and EBF discussions are that at the very least the paying passenger continues to be protected from the rogue dealer or that the NAA of the country involved will still be able to pull the plug on those that transgress. We look forward to seeing an ‘in-depth’ report and explanation from the EBF and something from the BBAC explaining their involvement in the organisation and their stance very soon.
Long and short currently is that until it is formally ratified it won’t become EASA legislation until April 2018 at the earliest. Simply put there will be no change in the current UK regulations until at least then so you can’t just go out and fly passengers without an AOC tomorrow. In the UK (and probably all EASA countries) the current Regulations for those countries probably remain in force.
We have been made aware (somewhat) that you can in fact join the European Balloon Federation (EBF) and below is the link to their website which includes the downloadable application form. Checking it out it is dead simple. Fill in the form, sign it stating your ‘quality’, pay 500€ for the privilege and you can join but there is a bit of a caveat. It would appear that you are only eligible to join if you are a representative of a nationwide organisation of balloonists. That’ll be the BBAc in the UK. Bummer, we aren’t and don’t have 500€ (annual?) to buy a vote on their Committee. No worries for the British Balloon and Airship club though as ‘if several national balloonists organisations co-exist in the country then they will share the costs’ and, if we understand correctly, the vote. Seems very Federation to me. In the case of the BBAc, who is paying what to whom and for what? Do the Regions or members have any say in how a vote would go? Puzzling.
On their website they make the proclamation in the ‘Who are we?’ bit that they are,
‘Definitely balloonists from all over Europe, who want to continue practising in a pilot friendly regulations environment. EBF was created in Paris on April 12th, 2014, by the national balloonists organisations of: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Nederland, Switzerland, UK.’ Nice spirit but who are these balloonists from all over Europe? Only a question.
This does seem a bit of a bum deal to me but then we don’t get to see the bigger picture and whilst I’m sure the EBF’s intentions are good they do not appear to be either a very open body nor speak simple English as demonstrated on their website. ‘Ifs’ and ‘buts’ maybe but I’m only asking like so I can understand the bigger picture. Come on EBF at least put up some mug-shots of your Committee along with who they are, what their qualifications are and what they actually do. Thing is that I now reckon, if I understand correctly, that the EBF are the representatives appointed by the clubs and associations in all the European countries they mention including the UK to voice our concerns. Truth and problem with that is that many EASAland countries don’t have national ballooning bodies or clubs to which the majority of balloonists in that country are members of and on top of that how many Italians, for example, are members of whatever the national Italian Ballooning Club is? That is an awful lot of countries and balloonists unrepresented by the EBF. Then again how closely are they working with the National Aviation Authorities (NAA)? Do they have their ears and support or do the NAAs need EBF’s support? I don’t know. Just asking.
Now before you think we are being facetious-like I think the ballooning community, whether members of a national organisation or not, might just want to know who to write to and contact in the EBF so their views can be considered. Grudgingly I have to say that even EASA do that using NPAs. You don’t have to be in any organisation to submit a response to an NPA. Stock answer will no doubt be that if you balloon you should join the National body as one big voice is better than lots of little ones. Fair enough but you don’t have to be a member of a political party to see your MP or vote.
Be assured this isn’t devilment for the sake of it. We would just like to know EBF’s credentials and how the lowly balloonist can make their voice heard or enter into discussions with them if it differs from their beliefs. Silly me. Its just been pointed out that this is democracy. As a UK balloonist we elect members of the BBAC Committee and we trust them to act on our behalf. Simple. Mind you, on the other hand why not evolve the EBF into a proper European body of balloonists by allowing balloonists to join and get themselves voted onto Committee type stuff. What am I thinking! Slap me with a bit of 4x2 (100x 50) please. That’s better, jolly good, thankyou. (o:
http://www.ballooning-federation.eu/ scroll to the end to download the membership form or http://www.ballooning-federation.eu/documents/EBF-APPLICATION.pdf will take you straight to the form if we’ve got it right!
Now the Rest of the News…
Ultramagic Flight Manuals and Supplements updated plus Service Bulletin issued.
Just in from Ultramagic are the following updates and revisions to the Ultramagic Flight Manual and Supplements along with a Service Bulletin. They wrote ‘This is a general notice to advise about the approval and issue of the following documentation:’
Flight Manual Ed.04, goes to Rev.24
There are changes to 42 pages (including the pages telling you that pages have been changed). In the main it appears to be simply a tidying up of operating procedures, loading and the like. Some bits have been clarified and there isn’t anything contencious. Most is simple to understand.
The following Supplements have also been updated;
Flight Manual Supplement Nr. 5, Iss.3 Mk21 Electric Burner. Couldn’t find the change here!
Flight Manual Supplement Nr. 10, Iss.5 Disabled Pax basket. 10.2.2 - Met conditions re-defined.
Flight Manual Supplement Nr. 19, Iss.8 Other Manufacturers’ Equipment. Cameron Voyager baskets added. Brilliantly the C2 Single and C2 Single Plus are now included. T&C 60x40 basket added. Lindstrand Jetstream single added and Jetstream range better defined. Be nice if they sorted out the Cameron burners sometime!
Flight Manual Supplement Nr. 39, Iss.8 Tekno Baskets Additions to 39.5.2 - Table of empty weight and Maximum lift.
Flight Manual Supplement Nr. 50, Iss.1 Mk-32 Burner Series. New read short and sweet.
Flight Manual Supplement Nr. 51, Iss.1 Mk-32 with Oxygen assisted pilot light. New read. Cracking idea this and ideal for high altitude flying.
Flight Manual Supplement Nr. 52, Iss.1 G-Series Envelopes. Applies to G-90 envelope only at present.
The following Service Bulletin has been issued;
Service Bulletin 01/15 – Fuel Cylinder ID plate installation. This recommends that in the case of ID plates attached to flight cylinders using aluminium rivets then one should be replaced using a stainless steel rivet as in the event of fire the plate may become detached!
The website has been updated and all the Documents listed can be downloaded from the direct link(s). Flight Manual changed pages only are also available.
Non-English Flight Manual translations will be issued at the soon.
G-INFO gone all apps
Dreadful thing is that the CAA have been updating their website (in the name of ‘Apps’?) and have now made it a lot worse in many areas including getting to G-INFO! You want to see what they have managed to do to the On-line ARC thingy! Never mind, if you can’t find G-INFO then go to http://www.caa.co.uk/aircraft-registration/ then scroll down three sections to G-INFO (where there is a picture of a row of canards that have nosed in) and click on ‘search G-INFO’ and hey presto you will be there. A small child then needs to be used to set up a desktop link wotsit or an app thing on your phone. I tried and succeeded (not on me phone like) but the link is user/myname/desktop and more things! Whatever!! I’m still trying to discover what has happened to all the other links that have been ‘moved’. Chadders to the rescue!
Seems that all you have to do is replace the bit www.caa.co.uk with publicapps.caa.co.uk so for example http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/1136.pdf becomes http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/1136.pdf. Doesn’t quite work on everything though but other bits still do work. The link to G-INFO that works for us now is
Hartley farm Workshop latest
As we reported last time around thanks to our local MP David Lidington we have now formally got the lease on the workshop for another two years. It hasn’t been exactly easy and the increase in outgoings mean we are going to have to look at the way we operate (hopefully still not doing Mondays!) but will give us time to sort an alternative. So big thanks again to all the kind offers of help and advice that we all very much appreciate.
Marsh Insurance leaves the Aviation Market
James Woodward of Marsh Insurance Ltd has announced that they are withdrawing from the Aviation Insurance market. Current policies are being honoured but will not be renewed as they will no longer be involved in the market. For existing customers they are suggesting that Heritage Insurance Solutions Limited may be able to help. Heritage are a Guernsey-based (off-shore) company that does have long-standing connections with aviation especially in the area of insuring crews and instructors but curiously do not cover balloon or microlight instructors. We use Bennetts.
BBAC AGM New Venue - Turweston Airfield
The British Balloon & Airship Club have announced that their Annual General Meeting will be held on the 13th March 2016 at Turweston Flight Centre, Turweston Airfield, Westbury, Brackley NN13 5YD. It kicks off at 2pm. It isn’t known if there will be any trade stands at present but a fly-in may be possible!
CAA Skywise launched
The CAA blurb says that they have recently launched SkyWise, a new alerting system that will be used to keep stakeholders up-to-date with news, safety alerts, consultations, rule changes, airspace amendments and more from the CAA. It replaces our previous information and safety notices with a more instant, tailored service as there are numerous categories to which you can subscribe. The associated alerts are kept short and to the point, providing a top level overview and a link to further information where appropriate. It is our intention to utilise SkyWise to distribute information concerning airspace related developments ('Airspace Change' is one of many categories) and therefore you are encouraged to subscribe online and/or download the app to your mobile device through the SkyWise website. Now I have to say I’m not quite sure what this is as in is it replacing other stuff or just more stuff? It seems it may be quite useful. I can’t see how you will access historical stuff but that may be that there isn’t any yet! You need to subscribe to it by going to the website and highlighting the bits you want to get info on then give it a minute and click the subscribe button underneath. Strangely they haven’t got a picture for gliders? You won’t know if you’ve subscribed unless you go back to the start bit but an email will confirm that you might have done. http://skywise.caa.co.uk/
Fire risk from Lithium Batteries
Probably not a huge risk but it does happen and with laptops and tablets and things electrical being carried in the basket and subjected to biffing and bashing on landing it is quite likely that sooner or later the lithium batteries powering them could have a bit of an internal meltdown especially if you got some gunteed Chinese ebay replacement jobbies. We’ve had it with a hand-held radio. Alerted by the smell it was easy enough to remove the battery but it continued to heat up so was aborted! Its best to know what you can do and this is the subject an EASA note on the transportation of spare lithium batteries highlighted. It stated that, ‘Lithium-ion batteries contain little lithium metal and in case of a fire they can be dowsed with water. Only lithium-metal batteries require a Class D extinguisher. If a Class D extinguisher is not available to douse a lithium-metal fire, only pour water to prevent the fire from spreading as water interacts with lithium. For best results dowsing a Li-ion fire, use a foam extinguisher, CO2, ABC dry chemical, powdered graphite, copper powder or soda (sodium carbonate) as you would extinguish other combustible fires. If the fire of a burning lithium-ion battery cannot be extinguished, allow the pack to burn out in a controlled and safe way. Be aware of cell propagation as each cell might be consumed on its own time table when hot. Place a seemingly burned-out pack outside for a time.’ Bottom line is that if you laptop does start smouldering you may have to revert to lobbing it. On the subject of spare batteries just ensure that the terminals are protected from shorting so don’t leave them rattling around in your flight bag along with a spare parts, tool kit, primus stove and the like.
UK Balloon Ride Operator prosecuted by the CAA
The CAA recently announced that a commercial hot air balloon pilot, who repeatedly submitted false insurance documents to the CAA, has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay more than £20,000 costs. Allan Nimmo, owner of Eagle Balloons, provided the CAA with false insurance certificates for each of his seven hot air balloons on three occasions, in January 2013, July 2013 and May 2014. A minimum level of insurance is required by law for an aircraft to be officially registered and for an owner to obtain an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC), which enables an operator to carry fee-paying passengers.
The defendant's fraud was uncovered in July 2014, when a CAA Balloon Inspector asked Mr Nimmo to confirm the insurance status of three of his balloons, and he submitted scanned copies of insurance certificates. When the CAA cross-referenced the certificates with the named insurance provider, it became clear a previous insurance policy had finished and the certificates had been forged. As a result, Mr Nimmo's AOC was suspended. In November, at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Mr Nimmo admitted three counts of 'knowingly providing the CAA with false insurance certificates', which is contrary to the Civil Aviation (Insurance) regulations 2005. Appearing at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday December 10, 2015, Mr Nimmo, aged 60, of Steinhousemuir, Stirlingshire, Scotland, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay CAA costs of £21,898.58.
Alison Slater, CAA prosecutor, said, “It is essential for the protection and safety of passengers and the credibility of the hot air balloon industry that operators have the appropriate insurance in place. This was the first case to be brought using the Civil Aviation (Insurance) Regulations and the length of the sentence and substantial fine issued, shows the significance the courts place on this type of fraud. The CAA will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure aviation safety laws are fully complied with and this prosecution highlights how seriously we and the courts take such breaches.”
The pilot Allan Nimmo attended Southwark Crown Court on the 10 December 2015 having earlier pleaded guilty to three offences of knowingly providing the CAA with seven false insurance certificates. Mr Nimmo also admitted to undertaking three illegal flights in breach of a CAA ‘no fly order’, without an Air Operators Certificate and no insurance. He was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered to pay CAA costs of £21,898.58. In addition the CAA have now revoked his Private Pilot’s licence (Balloons) and his Commercial Pilot’s licence (Balloons).
The Civil Aviation Authority is tasked by the Department for Transport to investigate and prosecute breaches of aviation safety rules and some aviation related consumer protection and health and safety requirements. It is in the public interest that those who comply with aviation rules have confidence that those rules are enforced. Prosecution is one means by which the CAA ensures that the aviation rules for which it is responsible are properly observed and appropriately enforced. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Amongst its activities it ensures that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards, prevents holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency, planning and regulating all UK airspace and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and additionally provides advice on aviation policy.
Brilliant cloudhoppers.org is a go-go
That champion of cloudhopping, Mr Steve Roake has taken the bit between his teeth and completely stripped down re-grouped and re-assembled his original old Cloudhopper site and is now thrilled to bits to announce the opening for business of the all-new cloudhopper.org site. Having marched around it a fair bit we are pretty impressed. Its easy to use and has everything you need to find out about, or just keep in touch with, the latest in the World of Hopping. Steve told us that, “The second version of cloudhoppers.org is now up and running, with the aim to be the one stop place for anything to do with one or two man lighter than air flying. This replaces the ten year old version which was out of touch and out of date. Also as its being run by, and all done by, me the updates will be regular and often. Good on you Steve and apologies for the lateness of our Lindstrand article for you. We are on the case honest!
Go have a gander it is truly good http://www.cloudhoppers.org
CAA and BBAC agree on proposed exam changes
At a recent meeting between the British Balloon & Airship Club (BBAC) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) the proposed introduction of e-Exams, electronic exams replacing the written or sat paper type, for PPL and CPL(B) exams was discussed. Conversion to the electronic version was due to come into to force by the end of 2015 but has now been delayed until the new EASA licences come into force probably in 2018. It was therefore agreed that, in the case of Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL)(Balloons), written examinations will remain as they currently are now, that is that written exams can be taken with any CAA appointed Balloon Examiner. In the meantime the BBAC will continue to work with the CAA on the updating of the present written examinations.
All written Commercial Pilot’s Licences (CPL), including Balloon examinations,were initially examinations were due for conversion to e-Exams by end of 2015. The CAA have now agreed to continue with the present system of exams at Gatwick until 2018 by which time the EASA licensing requirements will possibly have been decided. The CPL(B) exams are held at Gatwick on advertised dates and booking is through the CAA website. Provisional dates for the 2016 CPL(B) exams are Friday 12th February, Friday 15th April, Friday 17th June, Friday 19th August, Friday 14th October and Friday 16th December.
With eventual introduction of e-Exams the the CAA are currently ‘investigating cost effective ways of introducing locations’ where e-Exams could be taken for the CPL and PPL(B) exams but this won’t be until at least 2018.
Whilst having the CAA’s ear they also discussed Radio Licensing and disproportionate cost between a Handheld Radio Licence (£15 valid for three years) and a Ground Station Licence (£75 per annum) and that lowering the cost would probably encourage more pilots to comply with the requirement. The CAA agreed to discuss this with Finance/Ofcom with a view to reducing the fees as a safety incentive to tie in with the transition to 8.33kHz. Ofcom is the UK Communications Regulator.
John the Puppet Master on Youtube
Sometime ago our John starred in a short film made by the Luvvies that used to inhabit the end workshop and with whom we worked and had some fine old times. Sadly they have gone to Devon now. The film called 'Marionette’s Conundrum' is described as a 'dark, amusing, sensual tale' based around one of his sculptures checking out the others. The actual piece is called strangely enough, Marionette’s Conundrum and is just that, a Puppet controlled by a four armed puppeteer modeled on none other than our very own Mr John Yarrow. In the film both come to life and the marionette escapes her shackles and meets other sculpted characters who come to life. Pure indulgence but actually quite good and clearly led by the experienced actress and television presenter Natalie Varney and cleverly filmed by camera-man Paul Barton. Its all a bit luvvie sensuous and erotique and the music is pretty good as well. You’ll find John in the opening shots, closing credits or his dressing room. www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_NpsBdTP8M. If that doesn’t work type in the search Marionette’s Conundrum and it will appear in Youtube.
20% discount - DFDS come up trumps again
Dave Such tells us that DFDS Seaways have confirmed they are happy to carry forward their BBAC (British Balloon & Airship Club) Member 20% Discount for Cross Channel sailings in 2016. Once again, the discount has been very popular with a good number of bookings made this year so its a win-win for DFDS and BBAC members. Dave Such is waiting to receive the Terms and Conditions (which shouldn’t change much from the current ones) and for the special offer to be extended but once he has this we’ll update on the website. Just remember the current discount we had for 2015 sailings was only valid for travel until Thursday 17th December 2015. Currently you will be unable to book under the current 2015 agreement for any sailings in 2016 but Dave is confident he’ll receive the nod from DFDS in the near future.
Brighton’s i360 Tower will be a BA flight!
The world's tallest moving observation tower, currently being built on Brighton seafront, has been named British Airways i360. The airline has signed a five-year deal with the developers of the £162m Brighton beach attraction, which will be the world's first vertical cable car and the world's most slender tower. Like the Great Wall of China being visible from the moon the BA reckon that passengers on approach to Gatwick will be able to see it from the air. Marvellous. The tower will feature an 18m-wide glass viewing pod which will ascend to 138m to give 360deg panoramic views of Brighton and the Sussex coastline. Hopefully it will work better than the lifts in the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth! Lynne Embleton, BA director of strategy and managing director for Gatwick, said: “We fly to 67 destinations from Gatwick, and employ more than 2,500 staff in Sussex, so putting our name to the i360 and helping to promote the area made perfect sense.”
Also included in the i360 will be a sky bar, huge brasserie (cripes), hospitality rooms for 10-1,000 people, an exhibition area, gift shop and an indoor play zone for children. Flights will take 20min (30min in the evening) and cost a very reasonable £15 for adults and £7.50 for 4-16 year olds. www.britishairwaysi360.co.uk
Strange days indeed - EASA’s anomalies
Now most days we get Airworthiness notes, NPAs on things we can’t understand, you would have thought less than vital in the immediate or would be proposed route in on any other Roadmap. Latest is ‘Open rotor engine and installation’. An open rotor engine is defined by EASA as a turbine engine fan stage not enclosed within a casing and doesn’t quite fit into any of the gas turbine descriptions although that is what it is or rather what is currently being developed as the next generation of fuel saving (up to 30%), clean burn aircraft power plant by a consortium called Clean Sky. The concept has been around for years but apart from the Americans, in association with NASA, and the Russians no actual engines have been tested on aircraft. Now when you have a look at the Consortium that is Clean Sky you discover that it includes Airbus which explains why EASA are seeking a Proposed Amendment for something that is still in the development process. How does that work exactly? So never mind EASA lessening bureaucracy here they are creating it for something that is still in the wind tunnel as a scale model. An open rotor will certainly cut a swathe through a flock of seagulls but it isn’t expected to take to the air commercially this decade. So what you have is an NAA (read EASA on a world-scale) putting legislation in place to approve the use of something that is barely off the drawing board in Europe. Unfair competition? That will speed up certification if it is ever proved viable. So why, wearing their EASA-hat, does it take the CAA so long to approve something that is tried and tested? Deeper you look into EASA the more it may resemble FIFA. Nice to know that EASA are spending time and money on the subject. Levitating units in circular craft will be the next NPA no doubt! Think this is odd? Am though, going off topic? Next up is equally puzzling in that SIB 2014-29, referring to minimum cabin crew for twin Aisle Aeroplanes, has been withdrawn following comments received indicating a need for a review of the applicable recommendation. The withdrawn SIB makes for some interesting reading. Effective emergency evacuation of aeroplanes is highly dependent on the presence of cabin crew in order to manage the efficient and rapid movement of passengers with operational rules prescribing the minimum required number of cabin crew. There is a very big difference in controlling passengers evacuating from two aisle aircraft as opposed to single aisle ones and it now seems that the correct people were not consulted before publication. That’ll be those EASA appointed experts again. Sound familiar?
Adventure Balloons launch Wheelchair Flights
Having purchased a rather splendid Lindstrand basket specifically designed for wheelchair users, Kim Hull’s Adventure Balloons Company is launching a very special service providing flights for the disabled and wheelchair users next year. Kim explained that over the years they have had many requests for hot air balloon flights for passengers who use wheelchairs and are now proud to be able to provide flights in a special balloon basket designed for wheelchair use with a unique panoramic window to ensure wonderful views for the wheelchair participant. The basket was produced by Adventure Balloons’ long term partners Lindstrand Balloons of Oswestry. It is the only one in the UK of its type and will be flown by Gareth Gray under his 120,000 cubic foot envelope. The basket incorporates technology gleaned from their experience operating large 16 passenger balloons to provide the smoothest landing possible. Wheelchair user flights will be made on weekend mornings only with a flight duration of approximately 45 minutes from April to October. An assisting passenger must accompany the wheelchair passenger on the flight and the client must provide a vehicle capable of transporting the passengers after the flight so must follow the balloon recovery vehicle and be present at the landing. The maximum combined weight of the wheelchair user, the assisting passenger and the wheelchair must not exceed 200kg. Adventure Balloons will use one of their North or South Hampshire launch sites depending on wind direction on the day to provide the best flight conditions. For full details and costs please contact Adventure Balloons on 01252 844222 or visit their website at https://www.adventureballoons.co.uk/. To see a video of the specially designed basket in use check out http://www.balloonintuscany.com/video.htm
Cash Machine blown up - Butch in Wendover High Street
Latest excitement in our High Street was the destruction of, and robbery from, one of the Cash Machines. Set in the window of the Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity Shop it was blown up very early in the morning spreading most of the contents of the lovely glass window display cabinets across Kings Head Shopping Parade and into the High Street. Butch Cassidy and his mates got into the back of the Charity Shop ignoring the recycled coat rack and crockery sections and made straight for the cubicle containing the cash machine, filled it with propane and lobbed a match in. The result was the cash drawer ended up on the floor and the cash machine flashing up a sign stating ‘Your account has insufficient funds’. The thieves then made off with the cash on a trolley escaping in a black unmarked Mercedes. A week or so later they did the same to one in Tring High Street. Our landlord Paul had just finished bottling up and got his head down when the blast opposite had him out of bed witnessing the bold gang scarpering towards their waiting car. He called the police who told him they were ‘busy with trouble in Aylesbury’ but 'did he get the numberplate of the getaway car?' "It didn’t have one," he explained, "but it doesn’t matter now as they’ve gone."
Declaration versus BOC dilemma rumbles on - The BBAC’s stance
Ever since the EBF gleefully announced that the AOC was dead on Facebook the ramifications of the decision behind EASA’s closed doors has rumbled on with the UK Rides Operators leading the charge. Quite where the BBAC (British Balloon & Airship Club stand on the matter was clarified a little by their Chairman Ian Hooker So this is the BBAC Take on EBF or rather the perception of the EBF by the BBAC!
‘I understand that questions have been asked on Facebook and elsewhere about the European Balloon Federation (EBF) of which the BBAC is a member. There is an explanation given in the Aerostat, June 2014, but for those of you who have lost past copies here is a brief recap. The EBF was formed in April 2014 to represent the views of balloonists directly on the committees of EASA. While national balloon organisations such as BBAC and, for that matter any balloonist, could represent their views through the normal consultation processes followed by EASA, only European wide representative bodies and national aviation authorities (NAA- ie for us, the CAA) could take part directly in the EASA processes. Gliders were represented by the European Gliding Union, but we could operate (and still can) only through Europe Air Sports (EAS). Not only was this at one step removed, but it did not cover the very substantial role of representing the commercial operation of balloons, especially in paid-passenger rides and EAS did not have any ballooning expertise.
The answer seemed obvious (and in any case was suggested by the new head of EASA, Patrick Ky) – to form a European wide body to represent ballooning both for sport and commercial activity. All national ballooning organisations in Europe were invited to join. Currently those countries represented, besides the UK are, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France and the Netherlands. Our membership of EBF has given the BBAC a voice on the committees that are making EASA rules. We have been active on the expert working groups creating the new Part-M-L and on the new Part-Ops. Work will begin next year on a new Part-FCL.
The BBAC has worked to advance the ideas that we outlined in our manifesto at the beginning of this year. We have had to make some compromises in working with our fellow European members and it would be naïve to assume that we will achieve all that we have aimed for, but we have made progress and there is more to come.
Excitement has been caused recently by a headline on Facebook that said the “AOC is Dead”. That is far from true. For a start the UK AOC system will remain in force until 2018 at least. If the current thinking about paid-passenger rides and other commercial ballooning comes into existence, then there will not be an AOC, but there will be a similar, albeit “lighter,” system which works under a so-called “Declaration”. Remember, this outcome is a compromise to satisfy the views of multiple EASA countries (including their NAA); some of those countries never had an AOC and some have abolished them recently. How far the future pan-European system will differ from the current UK AOC remains to be seen – our intention is that it will be simpler and cheaper, but no less safe than what has been achieved with the AOC.’ Ian Hooker.
G-BUHU moves on - Landrover goes to new home
Sadly we said goodbye to Landrover a few weeks ago. All part of the big clear-out but there are only so many balloons you can fly! So over to her new owner, Matt Rate, who wrote a piece for the Chiltern Region’s Trailrope magazine entitled ‘G-BUHU, My first purchase!’ Here’s his story.
As many of you know, I have been more than fortunate to have a good friends like Jamie Edwards, who helped massively towards me gaining my licence back in 2013. Since then Jamie has been kind enough to let me use his kit as and when I wanted to fly, providing it worked for both of us! I have been keeping an eye out for an envelope for a while now and have finally purchased G-BUHU (LandRover) from Mr Dunkley.
A short phone call and catch up with Chris lead to me travelling down to Wendover one Thursday after work to pick up the envelope, with the hope of getting a chance to have a 'test flight' to see how the balloon flew on the Friday. Things progressed quickly. Balloon picked up and on board, drive home and make plans for tomorrow's flight, easy right? I had already spoken with Jamie and agreed to use his bottom end and get the balloon insured etc, problem one solved. Friday morning, whilst driving to work, I remembered that I hadn't actually refuelled from a previous flight. Great way to start the day. Quick phone call to Howard and I had a bottom end sorted which meant I didn't have to refuel. Sorted. I spoke with Jamie around lunch time and confirmed everything was insured and ready to rock and roll and he asked who I had as crew. Well, that may have slipped my mind, that I would need people to help! Several texts and rallying of troops we were officially sorted!
I arrived at the Obelisk Centre to find the balloon (being driven by Dave/dad) was no where in sight! (Those that know dad will know his time keeping skills are very poor) so I had a few minutes to say hello to everyone that had turned out to give us a hand!
Eventually the new balloon arrived and we proceeded to get going with a relaxed inflation in a gentle wind which gave us an opportunity to give the balloon a good look over. Final checks completed, Dad and Chris Freeman on board we departed to the West. The direction in which we were heading was open countryside, once we had cleared field after field of horses! Few fields to play with then ever closer the the SA surrounding Althorpe estate.
Once clear we had open fields again and had a chance to see how the balloon responded. Remarkably well for it's age and hours! We eventually landed near Welton, just north of Daventry on a small track between fields where we had time to deflate before being an inconvenience to anyone. After squeezing the balloon in the back of the Discovery we headed for fuel and home! Overall for an hour and 15minute flight including inflation it used 96 litres. Which is around 1.28 a minute, not bad for 380 odd hours at the ripe age of 23 years old!
A big thank you to everyone that made the flight possible, couldn't have done it with out you! Jamie Edwards, Dave Rate, Karen Glazebrook, Chris Freeman, Neal Harding, Dan Watts, and John Griff. Matt Rate.
New lease of life for Lydd - runway extension to go-ahead
Back in the day Lydd was the gateway to France for the wealthy offering a Car Ferry service. Silver City operated car-carrying Bristol Freighters that could whisk (well lumber) you and your Roller across the Channel whilst you sat back in the lounge sipping coffee watching the waves overtake you 500 foot below. Well that was the theory. Actually Silver City did very well carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers and tens of thousands of cars a year on several routes along with a lot of cargo until the cut price ferries and hovercraft services came along. Now work on a 294m extension to the 1,500m runway at Ashford Airport, as it is now known, is to begin next spring after conditions attached to planning permission for the project were met, hopefully ensuring a firm future for what was the first civil airfield to be built after the Second World War. Hani Mutlaq, Executive Manager, said construction should be complete by the end of 2016. He also summarised a host of recent investments and developments at Lydd, including a new £700,000 hangar to cope with demand for covered storage for light aircraft, and a Search-and-Rescue base for Bristow which became operational in August. Hani said a marketing campaign would be launched to sell Lydd to prospective aviation customers once work on the runway extension began adding that, “Our approaches to airlines in the past have always been met with the response that Lydd would be considered as a potential new route only when work to extend the runway was under way. Once we have spades in the ground, we will be redoubling our efforts to get airlines and other aviation businesses to consider the case for starting charter and other services.” Maybe they will extend the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway to serve the new airport. www.lydd-airport.co.uk