Balloon Repair Station

News 24.03.2020

Coronavirus & Easy Balloons
As we mentioned earlier in the Welcome bit we have elected to take a bit of a stance against the Coronavirus or whatever its latest development is called. Sadly it looks set to be here for a while so many balloons and pilots will no doubt become non-current. I was going say ‘lose currency’ but I reckon we’ll all lose that! Here is hoping this finds you as well and as diligent as you can be under the present circumstances.

With the current situation and the need to ensure we all do all what we can to see this virus off this is a just a briefly to re-assure you that although we are still open for business (update already – we aren’t no more), mainly processing piles of paper, as we do, we are taking precautions! Since we started the News things have lurched onwards and we are now closed. I think ballooning is reasonably non-essential. Please don’t turn up unannounced, you won’t get a cheery welcome or a cuppa I’m afraid and that is if we are even about. It is most likely, and I trust that, travel will be restricted soon making it all rather academic so we will concentrate more on paperwork and go digging for victory. Latest update that collecting and delivering balloon stuff for repair is not essential but if you ave kit with us please be sure we wil look after it and keep it under cover or in the workshop. Although we are virus free we have Jane’s dad, his carers and our Pete to consider, not to mention our Alice is in lock-down and about to do another stint on account of being sensible. Jane is being a delivery driver and I am on call up for shelf stacking in our local Budgens. Best way to contact us is by email or or try the mobile 07973 510518.

We took the decision a few weeks back not to go flying until the situation changes dramatically and the Government seriously relaxes the measures now currently in place. We thought it somewhat imprudent to rock up at an isolated farmhouse and ask for our balloon back, likewise on a school playing field (if its open) or other public spaces various. Now the pubs are also closed there seems little point. Most of the ride operators have suspended operations, Virgin until July. As for existing meets many are being shelved for this year. We will update our Balloon Meets & Events page regularly. We can’t anything happening until much later in the year so will write it off ballooning-wise.

Our advice to our customers is that when they decide to go flying again then best leave it until nearer the date as there is no problem letting the CofA and ARC expire (apart from not being able to fly obviously). It may also be worth contacting your insurer and transferring or deferring the insurance to ground risks only. It would also be prudent to let them know that your balloon is currently out of ticket. Shouldn’t change the ground risks. Please be assured we will pull out all the stops come the day to ensure that we sort the legals to get you back in the air as soon as possible.

Having already chosen to postpone inspections and decline to carry out check flights abroad it is becoming quite clear that a number of pilots under training are likely to start losing hours, if they haven’t already, or their exams may expire before they can safely sally forth into the wild blue. If you find yourself in that position please contact Licensing at the CAA and Dave Court of the BBAC. We will also be canvassing the CAA to see what alleviations they can give.

As always thank you all very much for your help and support and we wish you all the very best. Keep healthy. In a bold attempt to bolster your spirits (if you haven’t drunk them all yet, we will be posting some stuff on the website in the next few days updating the situation if required and providing nonsense to read on a happier note not least an article on sheep. If you find yourselves out of sorts and need someone to rant at, or some help, please do not hesitate to ask. If we can’t help we might know someone who can.

Balloon Meet and Hot Air Balloon Rides updates
Obviously the majority of balloon meets and events, training days and airshows have already announced they are either postponed or cancelled. Trends here and abroad would suggest that the earliest a revue of the situation will be taken would be June but looking abroad events until September seem to being cancelled. Ride balloon operations in all countries (as far as we know) have been either grounded by the government or taken it upon themselves to cease flying. We reckon this is sensible. We are now of the mind-set that this may well put an end to flying this year. We know many people check out this site in connection with Balloon Rides. If you have a ride booked then please contact the operator direct for clarification. Most seem to be extending any vouchers bought regardless of existing expiry. In the case of balloon meets and events please contact the organisers for further details. We will keep our ‘Balloon Meets and Events’ Page updated as best we can.

Inflation Day deflated
Of all the events that have gone east (nothing wrong with north, south or west (get over it its just a saying) the Old & Rusty Inflation Day 2020 has been cancelled for this year. Not the sort of thing you can hold behind closed doors! Anyway on the British Balloon Museum & Library website – – it has been reported thus; ‘It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce the cancellation of Inflation Day 2020. The situation with Corona virus changes daily and it with everyone’s safety in mind that we have had to make this decision. As things stand, we do not expect to be able to find another date in 2020 so we shall work on a date and venue for 2021. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.”

Bummer and we had the trailer loaded and ready to go. Never mind think what a ball we can have next year. Maybe it can be a weekend meet to make up for the day missed. That’ll be brill. Dear Pete……….

Now for a bit of the Normal Nuttyness – New 1:500,000 charts explained
There is a new edition of the 1:500,000 Southern England & Wales chart (edition 46) which was available from 27 February. Bit of luck we haven’t been flying then me dears. This includes the changes in airspace around the Farnborough area, which is was implemented on the 27th February (further information is available in AIC Y002/2020). The new edition of the 1:500,000 Northern England & N. Ireland chart (edition 43) will be available from 23 April on account of the different time zone and darker evenings but the shock horror is that the new edition of the 1:500,000 Scotland, Orkney & Shetland chart (edition 34), which is a long way away from Gatwick so they left until last, will be available from 5 November 2020. I tend to fly with Southern Edition 12 which gives you a load more airspace!!!! (o:

Now if this is all new to you and you missed the opportunity to buy cut-price, special offer ahead of publication maps then here is a thing. Changes to Farnborough airspace came into effect from 27 February 2020 so please make sure you reconfigure your Whip Wap so you can at least drive around it and practise avoiding it.

Registered owners of aircraft – here’s a get out
The CAA wishes to remind registered owners of aircraft on the UK register that they do not have to use their private residential address on the register. They do, though, recommend that the most appropriate address for the distribution of safety related material is used, as the address in the aircraft register is used to distribute most posted safety material. An alternate (maybe they meant alternative) address could be a club, airfield, PO Box address or business address. Brilliant we reckon. PO Boxes in Scunthorpe my son, is all we say.

Time for a break – Digging for Victory
For those of you that visit us you may have noticed we have a bit of lawn, couple of greenhouses, lovely willow tree and shrubbery various. The more knowledgeable may have half-inched the odd loganberry or two. As we drift into shortages of everything essential, like the pub and draft ESB, we decided, along with Shannon the Ambulance and his missus to go self sufficient so radical digging up of the lawn, emptying of the greenhouses of sweet peas and cutting and pruning of the shrubs is well underway. HS2 decided that the posh greenhouse cracked glass was dangerous so smashed the end panes out which was a bit of a pisser as it was fine really so we are about to re-glaze it unless glass has become a rare commodity. The shonky greenhouse needs the door sorting and the odd nettle evicting so that will be set for courgettes and tomatoes. The gap between the hard standing and aforementioned greenhouse will be put over to rhubarb and ferns. We used to vent the cylinders by it which tended to kill the contents so that will have to change for a kick-off, as will the comfort zone. On the seed list is spinach, chard, peppers, broccoli and sprouts. Special areas will be allocated for marrows and pumpkins. I’m sure the more exotic will creep in. Importantly we have allocated a seating area (two metres apart) when we require a sup! We used to have some rhubarb up there which was rather nice but it seems to have done a runner.

Falling for you – Latest CAA Parachuting Bumpf published
CAP660 Parachuting Edition 5 (2020) has just been published. As the CAA point out, all parachute dropping carried out from civil registered aircraft over the UK is regulated by the CAA and must be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Air Navigation Order. CAP 660 Parachuting is a comprehensive source of information containing rules, including regulations and guidance on legal requirements, parachuting operations and displays. This publication follows a public consultation which ran from 23 December 2019 to 17 January 2020 which was probably a great time to ensure no one saw it so no changes needed to be made. Anyway if you lob the odd errant skydiver out of your balloon best have a gander. Sadly the launch, drop and book signing at Weston-on-the-Green was postponed.

Self Declared Maintenance Programmes and all that
Now if you don’t have a Self Declared Maintenance Programme (SDMP) then you missing out. This is the thing that replaces the old Maintenance Programme that no one understood the reason for having. The SDMP is another simpler bit of paper that no one really understands why we have it but it does have a few benefits. Firstly it allows you to legally carry out Pilot Approved Repairs as determined in the Maintenance Manual and put your monacle in the logbook (I know), it makes clear which Maintenance Manuals you need to refer to for the bits of equipment you have if they are from various manufacturers (well it sort of does by referring you to the latest version without stating what that is) and it demonstrates how you are getting around not adopting non-mandatory Service Bulletins which we could do in the logbook I suppose. You do need to bring it to the annual inspection so the inspector can tell you they don’t see the point of it and it does offer the opportunity for more paperwork to be completed. Lush.

I think all the private balloons we inspect  have now converted over to them but if you haven’t you do need to although ‘in the cold grey mist of morning’ (prize if you know the song that comes from) you can do it at the time of inspection. As of 24 March 2020, the CAA were no longer able to approve Maintenance Programmes for ‘Light aircraft’ due to changes in EASA regulations (Part-ML) (which isn’t sort of done yet). In this case ‘Light aircraft’ means the following non-complex motor-powered aircraft not listed in the air operator certificate of an air carrier licensed in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008. From 24 March 2020 maintenance programmes can only be approved by an organisation approved under Part-M Subpart G, Part-CAO or Part-CAMO. Understand that sentence then have a lolly. Where appropriate, the maintenance programme can be declared by the owner in accordance with the new regulations. That’ll be the SDMP. Any doubts just ask for one and smile all contented like.

Ramble on (Led Zeppelin). Part-ML is applicable to the following non-complex motor-powered aircraft not listed in the air operator certificate of an air carrier licensed in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 with the following characteristics. Aeroplanes of 2,730 kg maximum take-off mass (MTOM) or less and rotorcraft of 1,200 kg MTOM or less certified for a maximum of up to four occupants. It is also applicable to other ELA2 aircraft which are, a sailplane or powered sailplane of 2,000 kg MTOM or less, a balloon, a hot air airship, a gas airship complying with all of the following characteristics – 3% maximum static heaviness, non-vectored thrust (except reverse thrust), conventional and simple design of: structure, control system and ballonet system and lacking non-power assisted controls. There you go. Why do we ‘ave Maintenance Programmes when it could all go in the logbook? No idea.

They train them here they train them there (more sing-along)
Despite the intervention of the Coronavirus it may still be possible to train under the UK PPL(B) system and get a non-EASA EASA licence thing. The BBAC and the CAA have negotiated a continuation of the current national training scheme for existing students. To be eligible, you must register with the BBAC Training Organisation (DTO) and submit all your training records by 31st March 2020. The objective for trainee pilots using this extension is to complete all training, exams, checkout, including solo, and submit a correct and complete application form for the UK PPL(B) to the CAA by March 2021. The CAA will then handle your licence as an EASA BPL. Some pilots may also choose (at extra cost of course) to have a UK PPL (BA) issued at the same time. The extension to national training is for one year only. As now, training flights with any pilot can count towards the minimum of 16 hours and a minimum of four flights with an instructor. If you do not complete your training and application by March 2021 you will have to got through a training conversion process into the EASA scheme and only flights with instructors will be credited. Personally I reckon it would be really rather nice if the CAA lobbed the book out of the window and re-negotiated.

If you don’t plan to start training until after 8th April 2021 or are currently training but have very few hours in the last 24 months and do not expect to complete your training and apply before March 2021 then you will need to register with the BBAC Training Organisation (DTO) as an EASA system student after 8th April. All your existing training hours will not count and will go to zero. In the EASA system, only training flights with EASA qualified instructors will count towards the minimum 16 hours required. Training flights with non-instructors are permitted and must be recorded in the logbook but will not count towards the minimum 16 hours. There are no time limits on training under the EASA system and the licence issued will be the EASA BPL. The BBAC DTO will update the availability of EASA qualified instructors.
BBAC DTO. To register go to

Just to reiterate and remind trainees that they need to register now with the BBAC DTO (Training Organisation) this was circulated by Dave Court, BBAC Training Officer.

‘Some have misunderstood the process so please be sure that you must register with the DTO and send all your training records to the DTO. You must also be BBAC student member to register with the DTO. The post card in the Pilot Training Record does not register you with the DTO. Registration is through the BBAC Shop (no charge). All training (for any licence) after 8 April 2020 must be through a Declared Training Organisation.

To take advantage of this the student must register all their relevant training with the BBAC Declared Training Organisation (DTO) before 31 March 2020. There is a form on the BBAC Shop to register. The services of the BBAC DTO are free to student and pilot members of the BBAC. See HYPERLINK “” for more details. The student needs to scan all their relevant log book entries and send to the DTO before 31 March 2020. Each (paired) page is to be scanned separately and labelled as described on Labelling each of their pages may seem tedious but it saves the DTO admin team a lot of work labelling well over 1000 pages. It also ensures their records end up in their file. If instructors or students need any further information contact

Now here’s Natty Thing – Transporting your burner
We are always both entertained and educated by those that visit for repairs and inspections. The packing of a trailer, basket and the way stuff is transported varies between all lobbed in with gay abandon to meticulously arranged and strapped in everything. Outside of the chuck it in brigade the most popular way to store a burner is vertically across the basket, usually on the pole bag. Padded burner bags are also very popular these days since Zebedee Balloon Services started making them at half the price of the manufacturers. A step up is across the basket as before but strapped to a pair of cylinders. Next up comes hanging from the handles or the corner posts vertically or horizontally. Now we have seen yet another take. Ultramagic burners in the main have daddy long legs frames and are tricky to jam in the basket. Now here is an idea that works very well. A pair of shaped and cut sheets of flexible plastic sheets are sat on the cylinder and the burner slots in upside down supported on the burner frame. The tennis balls are to protected the Westfalia trailer lid and for my dog. Works really well and is a sinche to lift out. Nice one.

You couldn’t make it up bit  

They used to be known as BABO, the British Association of Balloon Operators. I get that. It means Ride Balloonies. In an act of deeply profound wisdom they decided to have a vote and renamed it the Commercial Balloon Association. We use the term CBA for something very different but then I suppose they have as well. We were going to name our first born Mary-Jane, Mary-Ann after the lovely Marys and Ann Brown until it was pointed out her surname Dunkley rather spoilt her initials. Laugh, nearly had to have a DFA.