Balloon Repair Station

2019 Icicle Warms up nicely

What a way to start the year. An Icicle that flies all the slots. The benchmark for 2019 is now set high. We had actually got a couple of flights in with the trusty ’56 on the Thursday and Friday before the Icicle stole the weather for the weekend. Despite rumours to the contrary I was actually at the Icicle this year but only on the Sunday and didn’t manage to catch up with hardly anyone on account son Peter and Spencer Craze press ganged me into doing a retrieve. I did manage to say hello to the BBM&L mob gallantly tethering the new BBM&L balloon G-MUSM and I have to say it looked splendid, Jonathan Dyer who reminded me that he still did a day or two at the CAA and Mike Drye who I seem to meet in all sorts of places. What was very refreshing was the number of younger balloonists that were about. Jolly good news. With Fresh Air2 lifting off at lunchtime, by the time we got back everyone had gone home! Bit of luck though as the chosen landing spot was a field with a large strip or two of lavender along the headland with beehives at the ends. Could be the future I reckon. That, or saffron production! I’m told the Icicle was very nice and lots of people turned out to support the meet, visit the numerous trade stands that filled all the hotels meeting rooms and tuck into the Saturday Night grub and listen in awe to Petr Kubicek telling the story of Kubicek Balloons. I was delighted to hear that Lindstrand Technologies had turned up with a fine display of pilot bags, but, to balance things up they did take Per along to spread the word. Things will be different next year but no doubt son will ‘borrow’ retrieve vehicle/balloon/trailer! A well happy balloon meet. Fortunately Geoff Lescott took notes and penned a piece along with Martin Mitchell who jotted a piece from the participant side of things and sorted a list of the balloons that attended. Thank you both and also many thanks indeed to the 3-4-40 Region who sorted it all out. Roll on next year and a frosty one.

For the facts, figures and operational notes, take it away Mr Lescott. Statistically it had to happen, we had an Icicle Refrozen Meet with totally flyable weather! Official Figures, courtesy of Peter Gray: Saturday, 47 free flights, 10 historic tethers. Sunday 27 free flights, 4 tethers. A minor hiccup with the catering van not turning up on Saturday, but an alternative filled in on the Sunday (and will be present next year). Parking balloon trailers on the 1st green, ignoring the adjacent 11 acre parking field provided some (brief) entertainment for both organisers and greens staff.

The Prizewinners were :-Laurence Wigfield (G-BHEU Thunder AX7-65, newest PPL), Gary Davies (G-CKVI CBL A120, furthest distance flown 75.7km on Saturday), Mark Stelling (G-BXUW Colt 90A, furthest distance travelled to meet from South Queensferry), Andy Booth, (G-LORY Thunder AX4-31Z, oldest balloon flying at Icicle Refrozen), Colin Jones (G-BYMW a 1999 homebuilt Boland 52-12, smartest balloon at meet). Congratulations to all! Honourable Mentions for Lisa Humphries, who completed her Solo Flight for her PPL(B) and Jonathan Dyer, who checked out for his CPL with Crispin Williams.

80 bon viveurs sat down to a traditional Icicle Refrozen Dinner and were blown away by Petr Kubicek’s moving narrative concerning his father Aleš Kubíček’s 1980s struggle against officialdom behind the Iron Curtain to create their first home-build balloon and to fly it, thereby risking a 10-15 year prison sentence at the beginning for even daring to design one. And we think ballooning is hard work in the enlightened West….Thanks to all who participated, flew, crewed and helped, you absolutely nailed it this year! Next Icicle Refrozen is, as ever, the first weekend in 2020, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th January. Many thanks Geoff Lescott

Meanwhile in the field Martin Mitchell was busy being out and about Sandy was manning her stall in the main house. Take it away Martin…..

It was the first weekend in January so it can only mean one thing, that its time for our annual jaunt down to the 3-4-40 area for the Icicle Refrozen meet, held at the Donnington Grove Hotel & Country Club in Newbury.  Anticipation was high this year as the MET forecast was looking very good for two days of flying. Unfortunately due to my tethering commitments I had a lack of space in the car/trailer to take an airworthy envelope this year: Typical but not to be unexpected.  Anyhow on Saturday morning I did lend a hand in getting Mark Stumpy Stelling in the air in his new to him “Zycomm #2” G-BXUW before I started my tethering duties beginning with “Zycomm #1” G-BRFF, followed by G-BBGZ a rather nice homebuilt Cambridge Hot Air Balloon Association ‘42 from 1972 which was brought along by Jeremy Hinton and finishing my duties with G-BDBI Sunny Money a fine example of a Cameron 0-77 from 1975.  Both G-BBGZ & G-BDBI being Velcro rip balloons gave the mass gathering from the spotting community much amusement if not a little impatience watching me and the crew tying in the rip locks and sorting out the load tapes from being the wrong side of the Velcro

As it was a flyable weekend the attendance was up somewhat on that of last year.  My personal observation would be that some people did let the side down a bit by parking on the grass verges & golf course in preference to the ample car park as this was a little bit closer to the ballooning action. Whilst I was still enjoying my activities on the field Sandy was off to the hotel to run her trade stand.  The 2019 exhibitors being: 3-4-40 Region BBAC, Ascension Cider, Balloon Meet Support Services, Peter Gray, British Balloon Museum & Library, Cameron Balloons, JB Books, Kubicek Balloons, Lindstrand Balloons, Mark Stevens, Silversmith, Memorabilia, Bob Garnet, Northampton Festival + others, John Tyrell, Pat the Pin Edwards, Radios (Glen Everett), Balloon Register of the World & Pins, Sandy Mitchell, Ultramagic Balloons, Zebedee Balloon Service.

Once the activities on the Field had been completed I re-joined Sandy in the hotel until about 5pm when the day was brought to a close so it was off to the Chilis Indian Restaurant in the heart of Newbury for our obligatory Icicle curry, joined this year by Bob Garnett and Julie Sollory. Sunday dawned and it was back in the briefing area at the Donnington Grove Hotel & Country Club to be told the MET was to be exactly the same as it was on Saturday and thus it was a fine day for some more flying to be seen.

Much enjoyment was had seeing the folks that did fly lift into the air, and then again joining Sandy on her trade stand.  After the prize giving was completed we re-packed the car, attached the trailer and trotted off back down the M4 homeward bound. We both had a most enjoyable weekend.  Much praise must go to the 3-4-40 Committee for organising this meet again for the fourth year running following in the tradition of the Dante Groups’ much loved Icicle meets.  It was an absolute pleasure to be able to inflate G-BDBI Sunny Money on behalf of the 3-4-40 as part of their celebration of their  4th Icicle meeting as this was one of the balloons that was in attendance at that meet. Thank you – Martin Mitchell

G-AZER  tethered
G-AZKK  tethered
G-BCIN  tethered
G-BBGZ  tethered
G-BDBI  tethered
G-BHRK  tethered
G-BIYI  tethered
G-BRFF  tethered
G-BSON  tethered
G-CLCC  tethered
G-MUSM  tethered
PH-EJJ  tethered
BYSK and BRLS were cold inflated
CCRS was stripped of its wires
Next years Icicle Refrozen number 5 is set for 4-5 January 2020. Same place same time. Thanks to Geoff Lescott, £-4-40 Region, Georgina, Sandy & Martin Mitchell for the piccies.