Balloon Repair Station

News 18.04.16

Cameron Service Bulletin SB 24 Sirocco burners – updated
5 sirocco cans damageFurther to ongoing investigation by Cameron Balloons following the failure of a mounting bracket on a Cameron Sirocco and the issue of a Service Bulletin it now seems that the ‘Mandatory’ or ‘Required’ status of the SB may be reduced to a ‘Highly Recommended’ and it is unlikely an Airworthiness Directive will now be issued. However the current mandatory status remains in force until Cameron Balloons decide to amend it. Damage clearly evident in the pictures would suggest that the burner has had a serious bashing at some stage which may well have contributed to the failure.

It would appear that a high hour 2000-built Sirocco (800+ hour) double mounting bracket has fallen to bits (failed) as a result of the failure of the welds on the mounting bracket. The way early brackets were welded up meant that it would have been extremely difficult to see if any cracks or fatigue type failure was occurring.

There are obviously a number of contributing factors to this incident including transporting with the basket rigged however, Cameron Balloons have said that the original bracket as supplied by Bonanno was beefed up by them in 2012 so any double Siroccos manufactured after that date should be OK. For all other double Siroccos you need to get the bracket changed as soon as possible according to the current SB. This is within ten hours if the burner has done over 500 hours and been transported rigged or 20 hours if it has done under 500 hours and been transported de-rigged. No action is required if it is a later burner. Other centrally gimballed burners are not affected by this SB. If you are in any doubt please contact Cameron Balloons or your inspector.

There have been failures in early Stratus burner brackets in the past and there have also been Service Bulletins about frames and transporting burners in the rigged position from both Camerons and Ultramagic so you need to take heed and get it applied as soon as you like. As the brackets have already been modified by Camerons in the past supply and remedy should be reasonably straightforward. Please note that this is not a while-you-wait exercise so if you can it would be better to drop the burner off and collect it later. We can probably lend you something to get you by if you need to fly.

Service Bulletin 24 is on the Cameron Balloons’ Website and can be found here:

If you need to chat to Camerons, Craig is your man on +44 (0) 117 963 7216 or email: To access the Service Bulletin if all else fails go to their website

Brian Godding
It is with much sadness that we heard that Brian Godding passed away last week. Most of you will remember Brian flying his Balloons Novacastrian & Zanussi from many 3-4-40 BBAC Events. Brian also held numerous positions on the 3-4-40 committee including Chairman and his continued support will be greatly missed throughout the Region. Brian’s funeral will be held at 11am on Friday 22nd April 2016 at South Oxfordshire Crematorium, Garford, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX13 5PA. All are welcome back to the Dog House Hotel, Frilford Heath, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX13 6QJ. Donations to ” Friends of Duxford”. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.

Civil Air Display Report published
Following the accident at Shoreham last year the Civil Aviation Authority have now published their final report following the Civil Air Display Review confirming a series of measures aimed at making UK civil air displays even safer. In their press release they state that ‘It builds on our action report, which included measures like enhanced risk assessments for displays and strengthening requirements for training, those overseeing displays, and display pilots. In addition to those, the final report confirms further safety requirements that air show organisers and display pilots will have to meet for the 2016 air display season. These are designed to enhance further the existing system and help make sure UK civil air shows are even safer’.

To download a copy of the Report go to;

Barry flies his balloon
6 barry newmanBarry Newman has only gone and finally built his own balloon registered G-CJBN and very lovely it looks to. A report came out in the latest Chiltern Region Newsletter, Crownline and very fine reading it makes. Barry writes:

Since gaining my licence some 28 years ago, it has always been my ambition to build a hot air balloon. Over the past few years I have done a lot of flying with Tim Wilkinson of Sackville fame, and while we were talking one day, Tim said he was thinking of rebuilding an Annex 2 Thunder and Colt 65 and would I like to help him with the project. He had done a lot of research into the materials and other bits and pieces required. So we started to strip down and rebuild using old panels as patterns. Our first effort was quite rewarding but we thought it would be a lot easier to build one from scratch.

Tim got in touch with Bob and Carol Howes, also Pooley`s, and soon had permission to build one of each of their three balloons, a 31, 56 and a 77. We proceeded to build them, and then Brian Mead said that he would design and plot out the templates for a 65 for us. John Russon was the first to build one, and Tim, Brian and I helped him. It was a great success and a really nice shape, so I decided to make myself one in the New Year. I started cutting out on the 16th January and started sewing three days latter. I had done some sewing on my single needle machine but never on anything like a balloon envelope using a twin needle machine, but soon I was stitching the panels together. I finished all twelve gores and proceeded to join up the gores. It had taken me about 110 hrs up to this point altogether. At this point I should say that if Tim had not told me how to go about this operation I would still be there now! That job finally done and all the load tapes completed, it was time to sew up the parachute and rig all the lines, ropes and flying wires and the like along with the fabrication of the new bag but with fewer handles than 7 barry newmanJohn had put on the prototype. Now the balloon was all packed ready for the first inflation. It had taken approximately 250 hrs to get to this point with the test inflation and some final adjustments taking another ten.

Mistakes and errors made included mathematical error on the spider meaning the removal and re-attachment with the correct length load tape. I missed one parachute loop and joining one parallel load tape. The Velcro tabs were too small and strangely I only made eight Nomex socks instead of 12! All in all though it was a very satisfying experience and one I shall surely repeat.

EASA BPL Licence versus UK CPL
It seems that flying G-reg commercial ride balloons using the new EASA BPL licence is still some way off as the CAA have decided that the standards of the BPL are less than the standard of a UK CPL and the extra paperwork required to be submitted by the ride operator that wished to employ a BPL licensed pilot would be a bit of a burden. To this end the CAA have issued some guidance which is as follows:

The EASA Balloon Pilot’s Licence is now available for UK nationals to hold rather than UK national balloon licences. The UK CAA has written a “conversion document” that EASA has accepted, stating how we will convert a national licence to a Part-FCL example. This will ensure that CAA Licensing staff do not give any privileges on a Part-FCL licence that the holder does not already have on their UK national licence.

Notwithstanding, the requirements to directly achieve a commercial endorsement and each subsequent Group rating on an already issued BPL would seem to be less onerous than that to achieve a UK CPL (Balloons). As such, an enhanced risk assessment would need to be undertaken by an operator who wished to employ a BPL holder on a UK AOC (Balloons) and the gap analysis outcome discussed directly with CAA General Aviation Unit. The operator would also be required to introduce significant amendment to their company Operations Manual. No UK operator has yet progressed down this route.

It therefore follows that the only balloon pilot licence currently in use for Public Transport balloon flights under a UK AOC (Balloons) at this time is the UK national CPL (Balloons), with appropriate Group rating. The schedule for conversion to a Part-FCL pilot’s licence remains as 8th April 2018, the same date that the Balloon Air Operations EASA requirements are expected to be introduced. All operators will need to carefully plan for pilot licensing and air operations transition to the new requirements and are recommended to commence work towards this requirement in good time. Further guidance will be issued from CAA and/or BBAC in the coming months and CAA, BBAC, EBF and other balloon industry persons are engaged in work with EASA to develop the Balloon Regulation, which we hope will become a “one-stop shop” for all aspects of ballooning throughout Europe. However, balloon operators are reminded that their individual transition plans remain their individual responsibilities.

Bouncy Zebedee April News
March saw only two envelopes (a 65 & 90) sell, whilst for April we add a complete V-90, a 77 bottom end, a ‘disabled’ basket, a rear rack for your vehicle (to enjoy the joys of trailer-less lightweight ballooning), a pilot restraint, quick release, a front half of a 13hp fan cage and a prop for a small (approximately 3hp) fan. Also in ‘Other’, a Lindstrand burner bag in really good condition. We have had a welcome update of items listed in ‘Other’ from Allan Nimmo, the larger items remaining as listed previously. Also from Martin Rich with a hefty price reduction on G-VRVI as a complete kit.

Martin Axtell reports that some parts of his stolen balloon G-CILM, have been recovered – namely the basket – in trashed condition and cylinders, with serials and covers removed but still full of fuel and fan. This was largely due to Martin keeping an eye out for items to turn up in ads – which the fan did, leading to the other items. The envelope and burner are still missing. Finally Kim Hull is looking for a standard, small balloon size LBL outer burner frame with central gimbal (not the older style). Let him know on if you can help.

For loads of ballooning stuff for sale check out the Zebedee List at

Workshop tap explodes
3 hartley farm water leakAlmost disastrously the yard standpipe which supplies the kettle with water exploded over the weekend and flooded most of Rocky Lane and the Main Road. We realise that it is Victorian so about 300 years old but clearly the pump mechanism was at fault, probably a corroded fulcrum pin, fortunately the Ryanair 737 the piston assembly hit made a successful emergency landing at RAF Halton. The spout, visible over the trees and from the London Eye, as we approached was the give-away. Using a solid floor basket we managed to cap it and then go in with the aid of a Henry the Vacuum set to blow rather than suck and get a very nice Wickes ‘made in siagon’ (velly gennu all blass) modern tap onto it. We do appreciate that it was a Grade 2 listed tap so once we get the piston back we’ll rebuild it as it was and hope it lasts for another 500 years.4 workshop standpipe As I understand it the A413 will re-open in a week or so after emergency repairs have been carried out, meanwhile the canal boat family that’s moved into the ditch outside of the Laurels in Rocky Lane seem very nice. This isn’t the first time a standpipe has exploded in Wendover. A 50 year old Georgian one erected in the reign of King Charles I and supplied the poor peoples’ houses in Dobbins Lane went off in 2006. All the village urchins turned out with soap and shampoo stolen from the local chemists and spruced themselves up. We now celebrate the event every 25 years.

Sensitive Areas Reminder
Seems that this years’ flying season, although only just underway, has already resulted in the British Balloon and Airship Club’s National Landowner Relations Officer already receiving complaints where it would appear that Sensitive Areas are either being ignored or not identified. He cites as an example that he has just had a telephone conversation with a very distressed farmer. He farms in an area where there are a number of sensitive areas close by and although his property is designated as such with a height restriction of 1000 ft AGL a balloon landed close to the farm buildings. The farmer has previously complained with regard to low flying incidents and has been in discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority. He found it impossible to address this farmer’s concerns in particular the fact that although the BBAC operates a SA Database, there is little if anything which can be done if pilots disregard the information which is provided. A request has been made to please urge all pilots and balloon crews to act responsibly and ensure that maps are up to date with all Sensitive Areas clearly marked. In particular please ensure that you do everything you can to make certain that you do observe the advisory SA listings which are provided for the purposes of avoiding conflict with farmers and intended to encourage good relationships within the farming community.

Please note the SA database on the BBAC website, used to generate the map specific reports, has not been updated to the current version, due to technical difficulties. However, the PDF master list is up to date, to 7th March, with a number of updates added recently. It is available from this page:

Bonkers at Halton
9 izzie horse haltonHi-light of the horsey year and the one that kicks it off is always the Halton Ride. Hundreds of horses riders converge on RAF Halton Airfield, thoughtfully closed for the day, and let rip up into the woods above Halton Camp, down through the back off the Officers Mess and thunder onto the airfield. Riderless horses are commonplace and mud-spattered riders and horses both sport large grins. No-one really knows what the aim is apart from getting round but a good time is had by all. This year was no exception and Team Wellwick had a very impressive turnout gaining silvers and golds on steeds various. Best place to spectate is by the Jet Provost which has suffered over the years but is still the photo you want on the wall. 8 wellwick jet provostMost manage to get over it eventually and these days with the rear fuselage being the target most get over it on their horse! The airfield was extremely wet this year so there was no parking on it which meant a really huge horsebox jam built up as after the charge competitors tend to socialise. We were away around midday by which time the queue to get in was up to the main Camp! A good day out.

Propliner magazine goes annual!
Since the quarterly ‘Propliner’ magazine, a well rusty publication covering proper aeroplanes ceased publication a year ago the publisher and editor Tony Merton has had a bit of a rethink on account of numerous letters and mails requesting that the publication be kept alive. As a result he has issued the following statement:

“Within days of announcing my decision to suspend publication of ‘Propliner’ as a quarterly journal, I became aware of the enormous sentiment surrounding the magazine, and that there were a large number of disappointed readers. As the months passed by, I received approaches from people keen to see the ‘Propliner’ name kept alive, but none of the proposals particularly appealed to me. And then a little acorn of an idea formed in my mind – if a quarterly magazine was no longer viable, then perhaps it might be possible to publish an annual. Having remained in touch with many of the regular contributors, and having canvassed their opinions, I have decided to go ahead and publish a ‘Propliner Annual’ in April 2016. This will be of a similar format to the quarterly magazine, but will be twice the size, containing 96 glorious pages of your favourite aircraft”.

Now if ever that was a cue to go with an online version that should be it! For more details go (somewhat ironically) to their website

2016 Bicester Flying Festival announced
Ever keen to promote and ensure the survival of the historic Bicester Airfield enthusiasts of historic motoring, aviation and military vehicles are in for a treat as the Flywheel Festival returns to Bicester Heritage on Saturday/Sunday 3/4 July. Admission prices last year were quite steep for what was actually on offer but this year should be a whole lot better. Don’t quote us though!!

The event, now in its second year, will be showcasing an eclectic mixture of exceptional wheeled and winged vehicles for a weekend of nostalgia and excitement. Hundreds of classic cars and bikes will also be on show and visitors will be able to experience the atmosphere in the open-access paddock, along with watching historic road and racing cars in action on the demonstration track. Responding to the keen and growing interest for all things retrospective, other treats include traditional funfair rides, military re-enactors, a vintage trade fair, period music performances and top-quality food from local producers.

In recent years, Bicester Heritage has become a focal point for historic motoring, aviation and military vehicles. There is plenty to become fully immersed in on site at the event, with the opportunity to explore and view the remarkably original listed RAF buildings, backdrop to the 2014 film The Imitation Game, which are now being restored to their former glory.

Silverstone entry Forms now out
The entry form for this years’ Silverstone Classic Hot Air Balloon Meet is now available online. This year the balloon meet runs from Thursday 28th July until Sunday 31st July and will co-host the Competitions Club’s 2nd Grand Prix of the season. Happily Silverstone seems to be embracing the balloons big time and their PR department has gone all out to promote the ballooning side of this great event.

Entry forms from organisers Branded Sky are available for balloons wishing to attend from

Silverstone already hosts two Grands Prix with the British rounds of the Formula One and MotoGP World Championships – now, for the first time in its history, the skies above the famous circuit will host a third Grand Prix. As an exciting new addition to the expanded aerial entertainment at this summer’s Silverstone Classic (29-31 July), the British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) will be hosting one of its Grand Prix events at the famous Northamptonshire venue.

The BBAC Competitions Club will be organising no fewer than three competitions over the Silverstone Classic weekend for around 15 of the UK’s best hot air balloon pilots – including the World Junior Champion. This Grand Prix event will form part of the selection process for the British Team, which will then represent the country in international competitions around the globe including at this year’s World Hot Air Balloon Championship taking place in Japan during early November.

The Hot Air Balloon Grand Prix will be in addition to the hot air balloons that return to the Classic each year, some of which add to the party atmosphere by forming the traditional night glow during the live music each evening.

Air displays, of course, are now an integral part of the non-stop family-entertainment at the annual Classic. Last year’s festival for the first time featured a dazzling twilight display by the Twister Aerobatics Team – their spectacular high-flying pyrotechnic action lighting up the sky just as Status Quo took to the stage.

By popular demand the formation team will be back this summer – now with sparkling pyro displays on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Added to this, the whole aerial programme is stepping up this year with the addition of awe-inspiring demonstrations from The Blades and Wildcats, too.

The Blades operate a low-wing, high performance aircraft designed for the most adventurous aerobatic manoeuvres and were created with extreme flying in mind. Wildcat Aerobatics are also a crowd-thrilling formation display running two Pitts Special biplanes.

The addition of the BBAC Grand Prix plus these extra air shows will introduce yet another dramatic dimension to what is already the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival. Last summer’s extravaganza attracted more than 100,000 visitors and those planning to attend in July can take advantage of Early Bird tickets until the end of March, offering significant savings of up to 17 per cent.

There is also an all-new Family ticket available for 2016. This includes camping for two adults and two children across the whole weekend and gives a discount of more than 20 per cent compared to advance tickets bought individually.

Full details of all tickets (which must be purchased in advance) – as well as hospitality packages and weekend festival camping – can be found on the event website at:

Northern Ireland-Carrickmore Fly-in invitation
Carrickmore Flying Club near Omagh in Northern Ireland are holding their Fly-in over the weekend of 7-8 May. It’s a great setting and nice family based event with lots of other small aircraft to watch, if the weather is good… Balloonists are invited to attend and will be made most welcome. For more details contact the Flying Club at

Chiltern Region Maypole Meet venue confirmed
This years Maypole meet will be held at the Obelisk Centre in Kingsthorpe, Northampton over the weekend of 20th to the 21st of May. The Obelisk Centre has kindly provided the club with free camping for the course of the weekend as well as access to toilets and shower facilities . There is plenty of space for camping as well as a large car parking area. The balloon launch areas will be on the main field near the cricket pitch for the evening flights and on the football pitch for the morning flights. The site is big enough to easily accommodate up to 20 balloons and it would be great to see as many members as possible show up for this. The site boasts a bar and an all you can eat breakfast will be provided each morning at a cost TBC. The Obelisk can also provide meals in the evening as well and details of what’s available and the costs will be provided nearer the time. During the week- end the Obelisk will be holding their annual community fete and will be putting on entertainment in the evening in the bar which we are welcome to join in with at no cost. Dave who runs the site is very happy to have us there for the weekend and is very much pro ballooning, the local residents also en- joy watching the balloons take off from the Centre which I use as my local launch site. If you do plan to attend could you please let Adam Crouch know so we can submit and idea of numbers to Dave at the Obelisk so he can ensure everything is set out ready for us. We will be flying on O/S map 152 and options for refueling are being looked into at the moment. The Obelisk Centre is in Obelisk Rise, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 8UE Telephone: 01604 843032.

Dreadfully Grubby Awards
1 cylinder dirtEvery year we see lots of kit in varying degrees of loveliness and neglect. Some can be excused but some certainly can’t. It used to be that an internal inspection of cylinders was required every five years but sense prevailed and now it is all part and parcel of the 10 year Proof Pressure Test but, and here’s the thing, propane is not always as clean as you may think especially the stuff decanted from the orange 105 cylinders. There is a fine Bonanno filter available for just that scenario. The heavy ends, water and rust particles found in the bottom of cylinders when we come to test them is more often than not from older bulk tanks. The fine particles will cause blockages to jets but more seriously will cause premature wear to the seals in ball valve assemblies and occasionally, if they are big enough, cause damage to seals on lever action valves. If you think you have dirty propane syndrome then get an internal inspection carried out. You will need to purge the cylinder before rouking around inside it and cleaning instructions are in the appropriate maintenance manuals. A decent magnet will remove the majority of the grubbiness. You will need to replace the gauge gasket when re-assembling and get onto to your supplier to get your bulk tank checked or get them to fit an in-line filter. Stuff does get blocked up and filters in the burners will help but it is always important to try and find the source of the problem rather than keep having to rectify the problem.

2 dirty basket rubbishEqually grubbiness is also a very common occurrence with baskets. Removing the floor and padding often reveals a mightily impressive rubbish tip. Apart from being a fire hazard it is often quite unpleasant containing things like ancient Wurthers and decaying batteries. We have even found SatNavs. If you find nuts and bolts and screws and things check your burner! Some turn out to be so dry to be verging on brittle. There are various treatments that you can apply to enhance and protect them Danish Oil being the most popular. You will need a good litre to do a 77/90 basket. Wash it off first and leave it to dry. If you’ve got any brown canes in it then treat it with woodworm killer and leave to dry. We spray Danish Oil it on from the inside using a hand-held garden spray bottle and brush it in on the outside where it runs through. The drier the basket the more it will use. So a good pilot is a tidy pilot. Heave out the squidgy floor padding and have sweep out after each flight. You would be amazed how many baskets get written of as a result of rot behind the hide.