Balloon Repair Station

News 12.11.16

Cameron Special Shape TCDS BA.012 goes to Issue 30
Always intriguing when a manufacturers’ TCDS covering special shapes changes as this represents another special shape to go and find. This time it changed on 6th October 2016 to BA.012 Issue 30, up one from 29! Described as Tyre-100 (Horizontal Cylinder-2). Sad to note that this only the second shape built by Camerons in 2016 and looking back down the list 1990 had 22 new listings, 1993 saw 20 new additions (21 built as there were two Coffee Jars). If you go back 22 listings from this one it takes you back to July 2007. Back to July 2007 and Kubicek appear to have added 24 listings (including the very scary Foamy Gnome) but none in 2016, although they did actually complete the maggoty Skyballs to promote male testicular cancer. That doesn’t read right…moving on.

African Accident
It has been confirmed that on 25th October a British mother-of-two, named as Mrs Astle, died and two others, including a young girl, were seriously injured after coming out of the basket during a very fast landing following a ‘freak’ change in weather conditions in Buffelsfontein near the Buffelspoort Dam close to Rustenburg in South Africa. Initial reports stated that there were 14 people on board the balloon, the newest in the company’s fleet, including the pilot. Owner of Original Balloon Safaris who organised the trip, Bill Harrop, explained that the balloon was forced to land after it was caught in sudden high winds. He said that the winds were between four and six times those forecast, they were sustained winds too. It seems to have been a whole change in the weather system resulting in a freak turn of events. He went on to explain that the winds, which were forecast at five knots, reached up to 30 knots. Bill praised the pilot for doing all he could to mitigate the damage however strong winds resulted in a long drag through bushes and over rocks before the balloon came to rest between two trees. In a statement Mr Harrop said, “We have been left devastated by Mrs Astle’s death. It was shocking. The pilot has been given counselling, as have our operations staff. We really want to reach out to the Astle family and their friends, we are distraught by what happened.” The South African Civil Aviation Authority is investigating the incident.

Icicle Re-Frozen 2017
If you’ve been trying to enter you team into the upcoming Icicle Re-Frozen Meet the good news is that Geoff Lescott, 3-4-40 BBAC Region Treasurer & Icicle Refrozen organiser, is cockerhoot that the booking site is now live and accepting entries! There is no bad news as this is the meet to greet in the year and it is smashing super lovely and runs from 7-8 January 2017.

Airlander bounces
Sadly the second flight of the Airlander ended in disaster when it appeared to nose-dive into the deck. As one wag put it if all crashes were that dramatic all would be well. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) issued a statement ‘Today (24/08/16) the prototype Airlander 10 undertook its second test flight and flew for 100 minutes, completing all the planned tasks before returning to Cardington to land. The Airlander experienced a heavy landing and the front of the flight deck has sustained some damage which is currently being assessed. Both pilots and the ground crew are safe and well and the aircraft is secured and stable at its normal mooring location.  HAV runs a robust set of procedures for flight test activities and investigation of issues.  We will be running through these in the days ahead as we continue the development of the Airlander aircraft. Further updates will follow in due course.’

Having had a good look at the various videos or whatever they are called these days, it would appear that the descent was instigated by slightly rotating the forward thrusters down but then it appears they were not rotated, or did not rotate, upwards early or far enough to slow the airships’ descent rate and bring the nose up. If you look closely they do start to rotate quite quickly (in airship terms) once they’d been given a good jolt meanwhile the elevators are definitely in the up position! Balancing a thing the size of Airlander on forward motion to generate lift along with vectored thrust and elevators is going to take a lot of mastering, especially once you factor in the inertia of a thing that size. It’s a good job that the control car wasn’t any lower however the damage caused was still quite extensive and it is looking unlikely that it will be out again soon. The speed of the crash meant that the crew clearly had time to wander back into the passenger cabin and no injuries were reported. As an aside Jeremy Clarkson took note of the accident and wrote a less than sympathetic piece in the Sunday Times which, to be honest, is both entertaining, basically factual and but does wish Airlander well.

Been Jumping!!!
1-long-jump-cupOctober 2106 is officially now history so all those intrepid long jumpers have jumped, been brave and courageous and had some pretty hair-raising landings, according to rumour control. Birdman Batchelor has now announced that the reports are being written and submitted and the results will be announced at the legendary prize-giving lunch which is to be held on either Sunday 20th or 27th November to which all can attend even those that didn’t enter will be made most welcome. Please let Robin know though so he can have some idea of numbers. The venue is yet to be announced. Last years’ distance to beat was set by Dom Bareford and Abi Bridge who did an astonishing 225 miles in 8 hours 20 minutes.

So before you forget do something daft put the Long Jump on your 2017 to-do list. You don’t have to go mega miles, just entering into the spirit and wandering a few miles over unknown countryside is enough. The rules are simple enough. Fly the furthest within the British Isles during the month of October. Everyone is welcome. Entry fee £50.00 from Old and Rusty Robin Batchelor via the website Read some of the previous entries reports and be inspired.

CAP1430 – Brilliant read rave reviews.
Not often the CAA publish a best seller (which is free) but this must surely be it. Despite its somewhat less than inspiring name it is a wondrous list providing the definitive authoritative reference for all terms and abbreviations used within specific CAA Civil Aviation Publications related to ATM. Yup, I looked up ATM and it stands for Air Traffic Management not a cash dispensing machine. The first half covers the actual definition of a term like ‘Non-Precision Approach’ and describes it, in this case thus, ‘An instrument approach using non-visual aids for guidance in azimuth or elevation but which is not a precision approach’. Obvious really. Now if you go to the second half its got all the abbreviations like NPA by which it says Non-Precision Approach. Nothing to do with the NPA like what EASA issue which is nothing to do with ATM so won’t be here. Sadly although definitions for sailplane and helicopter were given nothing is there under ‘balloons’ apart from unmanned free balloons which are classified as heavy, medium or light. Is that reference to their properties of flight? No idea.

The CAA explain in their blurb that, ‘primarily, these terms and abbreviations have been sourced from European Commission Implementing Regulations, particularly Reg (EU)923/2012 Standardised European Rules of the Air. Where terms and abbreviations are not defined within Commission Implementing Regulations, additional material has been sourced from: Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and, where appropriate, to ICAO documents such as PANS-ATM (Doc 4444); the UK Air Navigation Order and supporting UK policy documentation; and the EUROCONTROL Airspace Management Handbook’.

Sadly PANS-ATM isn’t listed which is a woeful omission I feel, however CBA is there. Well in contention for the EB POTY 2016. You can download it free of charge from

EASA AD Workshop
While we are on the subject of acronyms a notice rated as IMPORTANT has been issued by those lovely EASA bods. We are informed that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Airworthiness Directives (AD) Workshop will be held on 08 and 09 December 2016 in Cologne. The event is addressed to all interested stakeholders such as operators, CAMOs, maintenance organisations and design approval holders, who want to have a better understanding of EASA processes related to safety publications. More information, the agenda and online registration is available through the EASA Safety Information Section. This link they sent doesn’t work
The cost, in case for some misplaced concept you thought it was free, is €160.00 or about £500 according to the latest exchange rate.

Weather slows downs meets
2016 will probably go down as the year of cancelled balloon meets courtesy of the weather. Biggest upset was decision taken not to run the Grass Roots Meet. The weather really was pretty bad however a few souls did venture up to Sackville and a few flights were managed but sadly with so many arrangements to be made and the booking of the grub van from up north it was felt best to cancel. For those that wish entries will be carried forward to 2017. Meanwhile in Norfolk the rather nice Old Buckenham meet was washed and windied out. Despite the gloom the One Man Meet went ahead and turned out to be actually, albeit courageously, flyable (more later). Although the Competitions Club managed to get three flights in at Silverstone their Grand Prix 3 event, which was to have been held at Aston Down near Stroud, was blown out. To make up for that though The British Nationals held at Lakeside Lodge, Pidley saw Dominic Bareford convincingly take the crown again with Marcus Green coming a close second.

Great Spheres mate
6-sphere-g-satiCouple of unexpected visitors got dropped off at the workshop for evaluation and re-commissioning courtesy of the tireless balloon hunter Stumpy. These were two rather splendid spheres G-SATI and G-SATL. Both envelopes had lain unused for a number of years and, although one is certainly better than the other and they required a bit of tlc to get them back into flying condition, generally speaking, they are in pretty good nick. We pulled and tugged and grabbed at all the bits and bobs and apart from a bit around the parachute on SATI (in the azure don’t you know) they passed. Having looked at them up close and inflated I reckon these are most probably the nicest built special shapes we have ever come across and as for the offset spiral, that must have tooken (what you say?) some serious French Curves to get right. They must have cost a fortune to build. They are stunning make no mistake. The two envelopes are now back on the register and have spanking new certificates of airworthiness. They will be operated by Team Stumpy Roake and Read.

The amazing feat of swans
5-bar-headed-geeseHaving had a quick gander at the Cameron website ‘articles’ section the other day we came across the announcement that round-the-world flyer Fedor Konyukhov is having a crack at Vijaypat Singhania 68,986 feet hot air balloon altitude record. He is hoping to round out at 114,800 feet so he can see the curvature of the earth and the inky-blackness of the cosmos. To give scale to his intended attempt Camerons explain that;

‘Although some swans can fly at Fedor’s intended record-breaking altitude – generally most jet aircraft fly below, with most being operated at about 30,000ft (smaller fixed-wing aircraft usually only fly at up to, about 10,000ft, where most other birds fly). Fedor intends to fly nearly four times higher than Mount Everest’s summit peak which stands at 8,848metres/29,028 feet (Everest’s summit is the world’s highest elevation above sea level).’

Well that’s astonishing seeings as kids we were told that migrating Whooper Swans can only just about scrape over the summit of Mount Everest and at the time we thought that was pretty brilliant as we were confidently informed that’s the equivalent of 650 Routemasters (the proper ones) stacked on top of each other. In recent years Whooper Swans have indeed been spotted on radar at 27,000 feet but it is in fact a bar headed goose that holds the record having been spotted by a keen twitcher at 29,000 feet. As for the claim that most birds fly at 10,000 feet, the wrens and 7-altitude-envelopejackdaws seldom clear the lime trees in our garden and most pigeons are well within range of me Poldi Elecktro. Now the New Zealanders did produce an all-black stealth swan which is invisible to radar and on which the design of the Blackbird, a stealth garden bird, was allegedly based but the maximum altitude of that is classified.  We wish Fedor every bit of luck we can muster. Sadly Camerons may have corrected the piece by now.

Full house for the One Man Meet 2016
3-omm4Despite a not-that-promising-forecast the One Man Meet didn’t disappoint the solo flyers as John Tyrrell and Wendy Rousell explain.

After the flying success of 2015, it was decided to return to Tissington village in the Peak District again for this year’s One Man Meet. Unfortunately, the weather gods where not 100% on our side with surface winds of 4 to 6 knots and upper winds at 12 to 16 knots. But this did not stop the ‘up to 60,000 cubic foot’ solo balloonists, in fact we had at least one balloon fly every slot and two on Friday afternoon. One got away Saturday morning but Saturday afternoon scored nine with a respectable six bopping Sunday morning.

But the One Man Meet, or OMM to its participants, is not all about flying, its also a lot about standing in a damp cold field in October talking solo balloons. It is also about very social briefing times, 07.30 and 15.30 mixed in with having time to explore the local area and then eating at proper times. The mandatory visit to the Friday night pub, the Coach and Horses at Fenny Bentley, proved excellent for both food and beer.

This year the Cock Up Trophy was not awarded, which was good really as it had not come back from last years’ winner, the elusive Mark Stelling, (can we have back please?) but the other two found homes: The Wooden It was presented to Andrew Davidson for the second year 4-omm2running. In his acceptance speech that went on for about ten minutes he commented that had only been flying solo balloons for two years and was amazed that he had the trophy again! Wendy’s Wellies went to Adrian Brown for really getting involved with the event having flown all four slots, showing that the weather was not going to hold him back.

So to next year, we will carrying on the tradition of moving the event to a new location every two years. The plan for 6th to 8th October 2017 is to find a new site in the Cotswolds, one that offers a sheltered launch site, good local pub and an easy gas source, not much to ask then!

Pregnant Pig update
2-pregnant-pig-crewWhenever we post an article under Old & Rusty stuff (which we love researching) we always get some great responses. Following the article on Pregnant Peg-A Norfolk Liberator little did we expect to get contacted by the son and daughter of the pilot, then Lt., Robert Copp (back left), who managed to put down in a field down resulting in a pretty much intact aircraft and crew.

Lawrence Copp wrote that ‘I enjoyed your reporting on my dad’s incident with Pregnant Peg. The article was passed along to me by my sister-Peg (Margaret) Copp-Provost. Peg is the youngest of Robert’s three children. My parents never formally admitted to any connection of Peg’s naming to Bob’s war time aircraft!

Bob passed away in 2006 and only during the later years of his life did he share the story of those days at Wendling with his family. Bob retired in 1983 from reserve service with 28 years of active and reserve duty as a Lt Col. He received three DFCs and two Airman’s medals during his active service whilst stationed at Wendling. In the 60’s the family travelled throughout the northeast U.S. to visit the families of many of the men lost in his squadron during the Berlin Raid of April 29, 1944. Bob was always disappointed that he was not able to fly Pregnant Peg out of the ditching site. I would love to see a copy of the Trevor book. I may have more in the materials he left about his military career, which began as an ROTC student at the University of Vermont in 1937. He was a cadet pilot when the US joined the war and went right into training after completing his undergraduate college degree in 1941.  I am happy to dig in to his records and perhaps can verify the date of the incident.’

Then if that wasn’t the best we only got a note from Bob’s daughter, that’ll be Lawrence’s sister, Peg herself !
‘I am the daughter of Robert Copp, the pilot who you wrote about in your article “Pregnant Peg-A Norfolk Liberator” (May 2016). I was delighted to find your article in the first place and pleased to find that it covered both “stories” of the event;  my father’s putting her down near Ashill and Major Russell’s fly out. My father was always grateful that he and his crew walked away from the landing, but disappointed that his attempts to fly her out didn’t happen and that he never had a chance to fly her again. And of course, he was greatly saddened by the tragedy of the loss of her crew in 1944. Of all the airplanes my father flew, the Pregnant Peg was his favourite. My father passed away in January 2006 and is buried at the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Randolph, Vermont. Thank you for documenting this significant event in my father’s military service. My dad was an amazing individual. As children we always said that he drove a car like he flew a plane – once onboard you didn’t stop until you reached your intended target!  I have shared your article with my mother, sister and brother and they all expressed their appreciation. On a side note, my father’s nickname for me was “Peg”.  All the best, Margaret Copp Provost, Berlin, Vermont.’

Next job is to go and hunt down Trev’s little book that got our attention in the first place and get it sent off to the jolly US.