Balloon Repair Station

News 01.05.2020

Easy Balloons and Covid
Currently we remain closed for inspections and maintenance. We are still prepared to process any paperwork (under review please contact us) submitted by our inspectors but strongly discourage them from carrying out inspections until the situation improves dramatically and when travelling and social distancing restrictions are revised. We intend to review our position based on Government and CAA advice in August. Unfortunately because of the nature of our sport and business, while some relaxation in GA flying is possible it will not be so straightforward for ballooning or balloonists. For more information please see our current Welcome page. The best way to contact us, even if its for a rant, is by email, or the mobily Tuesday to Friday 07973 510518

Steve Burden
It is with deep sadness that I need to let you know, if you haven’t already heard, that Steve Burden, one of the best balloon inspectors around, tragically passed away last Friday in The Netherlands from the effects of coronavirus. Well known for inspecting and carrying out repairs to balloons in Holland, Germany and beyond what makes this so tragic is that he survived a double lung transplant last year and as soon as he could was back testing cylinders, inspecting, repairing and keeping balloons across Europe flying. He had planned to come over to the last (cancelled) BBAC organised inspectors’ symposium but was strongly dissuaded because of the approaching threat of the virus. Steve was the kindest, most thoughtful gifted person who I admired and respected deeply. He was a brilliant engineer and we shared a love of many things from discussing projects various, persuading and getting old motorcycles run again through to riding horses. He was one of the few people who, if they couldn’t get a part would simply set to and make it. When Dan Wilson become so ill Steve and his missus Geli flew over to visit and offer support and care to both Dan and his missus Jules. One of the saddest things about his untimely death is that in one of the last mails I had from him in early April he explained that he had attended hospital for a bronchoscopy and before admission was tested for the virus which showed positive. He reckoned the symptoms appeared quite light and was hoping to be up and about in a few days. Sadly it wasn’t to be. As his wife is also seriously ill and undergoing chemo he had been very careful about coming into contact with anyone who might, in turn, have come in to contact with it or showed symptoms and was very surprised to learn he had contracted it. Fortunately his wife’s test came back negative. As to how he contracted it he thought it could have only come from one of two sources. Earlier in the month he had to provide biometric data at the immigration centre then a few days later he carried out an inspection. He had checked beforehand that no-one showed any sign of symptoms or had been sick and that 98% of the time they were outdoors. I’m sure he would not object to me passing on this warning of the risks involved with all aspects of the virus. It is very easy to think you will be immune from it or its effects. Please be very careful. For all those that knew Steve he will be very much missed and a very hard act to follow. Our deepest sympathies go out to all that were lucky enough to have met him, to his family and friends and of course to Geli who has her own recovery to deal with. I am pretty devastated by this and can only re-iterate that if you do decide to get your balloon inspected ask yourself this. Is it really necessary at the moment? Wait until government and CAA restrictions, are eased at the very least and that you think it acceptable to turn up unannounced in someones’ field. Please be very careful.

CAP 1789 EU Drone regulation package postponed
The CAA has published an updated version of CAP 1789 which provides updated guidance based on revised information and policy developments that have been provided since its original publication in June 2019. It provides a simple explanation of the general intent behind the regulations and also includes a section which aims to answer some of the most common questions and misunderstandings that the CAA has received. This revision also introduces a minimum four month postponement of the applicability of the Implementing Regulation (to ‘not before’1 November 2020) as a consequence of theongoing disruption caused by the Coronavirus/COVID19 outbreak. It is possible that in the coming months the European Commission will itself decide to postpone to a different date (and the ‘not before’ phrasing has been used to cater for this possibility) but the UK has taken the decision now so that we can provide a reasonable degree of certainty for the UK’s UAS industry. If the applicability date is subsequently postponed beyond 1 November 2020, they will provide notification as soon as this is known.

Ultramagic Flight Manual gears up
Latest balloony publication to hit the bookstands, which are sadly closed so lucky its on the whizzmail interweb, is Edition 04 Revision 25. No idea what the changes are as our connection really is part-time at the moment. Dear Boris scrap HS2 spend the money on the Interweb. Anyway also updated are the following Flight Manual Supplements namely; FM Supp 17 BMK-008 (Powerplus Sport Single/Double Burners) goes to Issue 5 and FM Supp 39 (Tekno Baskets) Issue 11. Additionally the Maintenance Manual Supplements; Supp 11 (Powerplus Sport/Mini Single Burners) goes to Issue 4, Supp 22 (CV-08 Vista Baskets) nips up one to Issue3 and an all new one comes in Supp 30 Iss.1 all about Parachute Line Gearing Down. For a cracking read while we await the next sunny day check them all out at

Covid and Balloon Insurance
Peter Dowlen, J Bennett & Sons long time balloon insurance guru and even longer time balloonist gives his and his company’s take on balloon insurance during the Covid Outbreak.
“Balloonists throughout Europe are now following their Government’s guidelines on social distancing and are mainly in lockdown. No flying. No fun.
What does this mean from an insurance point of view? Well, with no flying, the risk, on the face of it, must be lower and balloonists should consider asking their broker to reduce cover to ground risks. This won’t necessarily save a huge amount of money, particularly if you are on a limited flights basis, and have already used up a lot of the allocation. Our Underwriters have been pretty flexible and will reduce cover, for a reduced premium in most cases.

Ground risks means there is no liability cover or damage if you inflate the balloon to inspect it. On JBS policies, ground risks will cover any damage up to the time the burner is lit; so a cold fan inflation without any input from a burner is ok. The main problem I see, is how long will we be unable to fly and what do I need to do to resurrect the policy when we are allowed and how much will that cost? All cases are different, so please speak to us and we can let you have these answers and the options. What I can see is that when we are allowed back in the air, what reception are we going to receive landing on someone’s farm? This has a very similar feeling to the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. I did not fly between mid-February and the end of August that year. Deja vue all over again but watch this space! Peter Dowlen, For Easy Balloons, sitting in the sun, April 2020” For further details contact J Bennett & Sons on 01494 450450 or check out their website

Regional Balloon Clubs go on Lock-Down
With the lockdown having been extended into June, throughout the UK the regional balloon clubs have issued guides and notes to pilots and many planned events and get-togethers cancelled or are being revued on a rolling basis. Within the clubs, from early on, members had all agreed that flying was going on hold and, following lock-down along with CAA and Government guidelines, it continues. Advice given by the clubs then all follows pretty much the same pattern meaning that everything is on hold. Social distancing in a basket or the retrieve vehicle was always going to be tricky. Of course the guidelines from the CAA have also had a huge effect on all private flying and the Balloon Ride Operators. For the time being everything is therefore on the deck. Being realistic nothing is going to change soon. Even if restrictions are relaxed, in most cases it will be a long time before balloons arriving uninvited onto a farm or public space will be welcomed with open arms or large public gatherings permitted. It will also most likely see many overseas events cancelled or postponed as well, events that club members often attend en-masse. Many of the regional clubs organise some of the best balloon meets there are and of course these are all affected by the Covid pandemic. Both the North West Balloon & Airship Club and the Pennine Region Balloon Association run lots of open balloon meets and have excellent websites listing all their meets outside of the members’ area which are kept well updated. The British Balloon & Airship club publish a list of all the clubs and they are also listed in our Pages section with contact details and websites. The local balloon clubs are one of the best ways to get into ballooning and their members are always happy to welcome new members at all levels. It also a great way to discover well hidden great pubs! If you fancy finding out more about them, or indeed joining up and enjoying fine flying and great socials please contact them directly. We have tried to contact all the listed balloon clubs and the responses we have received or the information posted on their websites. To find out more, with all the contact details, see the article, ‘Corrie Virutrolic nasty thing and the Balloon Clubs’.

Please don’t message from the BBAC Chairman
With all the lovely weather we have been having and the feeling that all is well its nice to see that the BBAC have circulated a statement referring to incidents of balloons being inflated during the lock-down. Paul Spellward, Chairman of the British Balloon & Airship Club, stated that, ‘It should not be necessary to re-iterate that no recreational (free) flying is permitted at present. In recent days there have been several cases of pilots inflating (not flying) balloons “for their amusement”, which has led to attention from the public and authorities. Whilst there has been no actual infringement of the current restriction on (free) flying, it is definitely not in the interests of the public profile of our sport / industry for such activities to take place. Please can all pilots take note that they are strongly discouraged from inflating balloons, even on private land, until the current restriction is lifted. The one basis permitted (by published CAA guidance) for inflating a balloon is for maintenance, i.e. an annual inspection or similar. Clearly this would only take place in a private location, with an inspector present and would need special consideration to cover social distancing and hygiene. Many inspectors and maintenance organisations will not feel able to engage in such activities at this time’.
We fully support his statement.

Exclusive Ballooning Events Updates
Andrew Holly’s Exclusive Ballooning Events have become amongst the most popular with Longleat overtaking Bristol in terms of balloon numbers. Along with many other events the Coronavirus and the restrictions imposed by it have already caused many events to be moved, postponed or cancelled. The Lord Mayor’s balloon Regatta originally planned for May/June has now been moved to July/August with the standby dates now being 19 and 26 July along with 2 and 9 August. Currently the jewel in the crown, Longleat, remains unchanged at the present time and is still set for 10-13 September. Balloons on the Beach at Weston-super-Mare and the new Goodwood event have now been postponed until next year. For updates check the appropriate website addresses or keep updated through their Facebook pages (or whatever they are called) @exclusiveballooning.

Albuquerque leaving things open.
In a letter from the Balloon Fiesta’s President, Matt Guthrie and Executive Director, Paul Smith, dated March 29, 2020 he says that, ‘As always, safety is our top concern and as we prepare for the 49th Balloon Fiesta, the safety and health of our pilots, volunteers, staff, guests and community is Balloon Fiesta’s top priority. We are closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and New Mexico Department of Health regarding the spread of the virus. Like you, we are hopeful this virus and its impacts are remediated quickly for everyone. Planning for the 2020 Balloon Fiesta continues. Fortunately, with our event scheduled for October we have the opportunity to observe, adapt and implement best practices for events like ours. With our focus on October, here are a few quick updates about the planning for the 2020 Balloon Fiesta. Our pilot applications remain on track with previous years. So far, we have 587 applications, which includes 113 special shape balloons! This is consistent with previous years, if not slightly more than we’ve seen in the past. In partnership with Albuquerque radio station KRST, we will announce our 2020 Music Fiesta lineup March 30. Look for a special edition of our newsletter with additional details. We are humbled and grateful for your continued support during this time.’ Currently the message on the website is a ‘COVID-19 Update’ stating that, ‘The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is thankful for our pilots, crew and supporters around the world, we hope you are all well during this difficult time. The COVID-19 virus has affected us all and our team is working remotely, practicing social distancing while continuing to plan to launch the 49th event on October 3, 2020. We are in regular communication with government officials about best practices to ensure the health and safety of all our participants and guests. Matt Guthrie, President, Board of Directors and Paul Smith, Executive Director of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, recently shared their insights through an update on our website. Until we resume our in-office operations, feel free to visit our online gift shop or connect with us through social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also join our newsletter mailing list for important monthly updates, you can sign up at the bottom of this page. If you have any questions about this year’s event, please feel free to leave a message at our office 505-821-1000 or email, we’ll be sure to get back to you promptly. Tickets for the 2020 event, October 3 through 11, are on sale and we look forward to seeing you in October!’ See more at

Ultramagic limited opening
In a note from Ultramagic’s UK agent, Richard Penney, we have been informed that the authorities in Spain have allowed some factories to re-open under strict social distancing and other stringent guidelines. This means that Ultramagic are now operating again on a limited timetable and with limited staff, their priority is staff safety above all else. They are now open to accept orders for spare parts just in case anyone needs anything but please allow a few extra days for preparation and carriage at this time. Visuals for quotes etc are operating as normal. Timescales for new builds are quoted on a case by case basis dependant on size and complexity etc. Obviously this is subject to change but at the moment this is the current situation. They wish all their friends and colleagues all the best at this time. For more information please contact Richard at

British Balloon & Airship Club have not much of a shake-up
Many balloonists and crews, although members of the various regions affiliated to the BBAC, are not members of the BBAC and probably don’t get to hear of the effort and hard work put in by the BBAC on behalf of UK balloonists. Mike Gunston, as ever, provided a well-balanced and simplified take on the events of the first meeting of the BBAC Main Committee following their AGM that may be of interest and maybe prompt you to get more involved or indeed join the BBAC.
He reported on 31st March that, ‘The BBAC main committee held its first meeting during the present movement restrictions. The meeting was done by video conferencing on Skype so we all had the luxury of our own front rooms but you had to bring your own chips. The first task of the meeting was to appoint officers to roles. Paul Spellward (Chairman), Fiona Waite (Vice-chairman) and Ellie Gingell (Treasurer), were proposed, seconded, and voted unanimously to their posts. In the absence of rival applications the majority of posts remain with those in the role from last year. This allows for continuity. As an organisation we need succession planning to allow for a member retiring or leaving the post at short notice. We have a few vacancies and new posts to ensure we are fit for future. If you are interested in filling any of the vacancies or need more information on the role please contact Wendy (BBAC Secretary) who can steer you in the right direction.

CBA/AOC Liaison Officer: This officer is the conduit between the Club and commercial operators. They should have experience of working in the commercial sector and be ready to represent the BBAC to the CBA and to individual operators as well as to seek and collate inputs from the section to the BBAC.
Deputy National Safety Officer: The work of the safety officer is varied but can involve investigating incidents on behalf of the BBAC or AAIB. Our NSO is Ian Hooker and the current deputy is Glen Everett, who will assist in the transition to a new officer. The new officer will ideally be in the south of UK and should have experience in the technical and operational areas of ballooning.
Crew Training: Robin Waite and Angela Jones are our Crew Training Officers. As the new crew training scheme is rolled out around the country, we will need a team of people to help organise events and to coordinate delivering practical and classroom elements of crew training. Please let us know if you would like to join the Crew Training Team.
Deputy National Landowner Relations Officer: This is a new post to provide extra capacity and for succession planning. The work of the NLRO is vital in keeping us ballooning. Regional LRO’s should investigate local incidents but there are some gaps in the coverage. Some incidents need to be investigated by the NLRO, who is also the liaison between the BBAC and NFU/CLA etc. The deputy NLRO would ideally be someone who has previously acted as a regional or map LRO, or who has been had LR responsibilities at a balloon meet over significant numbers of years.
Deputy Webmaster (structure): Piers Glydon is our webmaster and Brian Trowbridge is his deputy, specialising in user administration. They both do excellent work which never ceases. A third person is required to assist with technical support. Obviously, some relevant skills are required.
The AGM and members day was considered a success. The attendees were down as a result of Covid-19, but we were quorate for the AGM and the speakers meetings were well attended. This format will continue for future years and all suggestions to improve the day are welcome. Visits to Regional Meetings have been temporarily curtailed but it is hoped to start afresh in the autumn. One region we are having difficulties getting through to is Mid Hants. Please let me know who to contact as the usual channels have so far drawn a blank. Work continues on updating the BBAC website. The public area revamp has been completed and you will agree it looks the business. Work continues on the members area, some of which needs to be updated by specific members. In tandem is work on a new membership system. If you are on direct debit your membership fee just goes from your account, but like a swan there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make this happen. We are trying to reduce the number of membership categories and farm out the collection process to an outside company to ease the amount of work on the tech’ team. Categories and fees will be discussed at out meeting in the summer. Covid-19 is anticipated to adversely affect our finances, like most other companies. We have made small surpluses over the last few years so we have sufficient funds to cope with the anticipated loss this financial year.
Ballooning and the environment! How can we make our activities more environmentally friendly? Carbon offsetting for an hour long flight roughly equates to £5 so you could pop down to your local garden centre and buy a tree before you fly. Where you plant it after the flight is up to you but don’t upset the landowner. Seriously though, how do we protect the planet? All suggestions welcome to Graham Gordon our new Environmental Officer. One step we took yesterday was to remove the plastic cover on your Aerostat and replace it with a recyclable paper one. This should come with your June edition. Our next meeting will be on Saturday 30 May 2020 at 14:00 (probably via Skype) and next year’s AGM will be on 21 March 2021 the venue is yet to be confirmed’.

Farewell South Downs Ballooning
Alan Hall, who has been providing balloon flights and promotional flights for many a year has decided to retire. As a result of this he has done a deal with Virgin Balloons ensuring any remaining passengers will now be flown by them. G-CJCS his Kubicek BB60Z has now gone to Ballooning in Tuscany, part of the Virgin Group, based in Firenze, Italy. He isn’t giving up ballooning though and is currently hanging onto G-CCPT, Cameron Z90, and G-CRBV, another Kubicek, and plans to go back to flying for fun and pleasure. He has posted a message explaining his decision along with contact details for outstanding customers….. Dear Customer, I am delighted to tell you that your unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the South Downs will now take place with Virgin Balloon Flights. After many happy years flying passengers, unfortunately my age and the current COVID-19 situation has resulted in me having to retire from the ballooning business. To ensure that all of you still enjoy the flight you have been looking forward to, Virgin Balloon Flights has agreed to take on all South Downs Ballooning Ltd passengers with a valid flight voucher. The UK’s largest balloon operator, Virgin Balloon Flights has been flying its big red balloons alongside me in Hampshire and West Sussex for many years. Their local pilots are some of the most experienced in the world and are looking forward to taking you up, up and away on your airborne adventure. To register your flight voucher with Virgin Balloon Flights, please contact them one of the following ways: email: Telephone 01952 212750 (currently live chat only – COVID-19). Live Chat: (Open 9am to 6pm Mon to Thurs, 9am to 5.30pm Fri) or by post to Virgin Balloon Flights, Jesson House, Stafford Court, Telford, Shropshire TF3 3BD. They will need your voucher number(s), passenger names and your full contact details. Once your voucher has been verified, they will issue you with a brand new Virgin Balloon Flights voucher and security code, valid for a full 18 months and with full instructions on how to book your next flight. If you are the purchaser of the voucher and not the passenger, please ensure that this information is passed on to the appropriate person. Yours Faithfully Alan. South Downs Ballooning Ltd

Sheep Sheared in stealth attack
Bit later than reality but a few weeks ago the feral sheep, mentioned in the Sheep Article, at our Mary’s got sheared. Now you have to understand that these are about as wild as sheep get. Turns out that Jane bought them for Holly and Nicole much to jay’s distaste. Shearing sheep is a violent, stressful and truly physical process. The sheep were rounded up by coaxing them into an empty stable the night before with the aid of horse nuts. Mary told me that it was a very noisy night with the little beggars (fat round things actually) bashing and banging around the stable and bleeting and barking all night like a demented muntjac if you get me drift. Sheering was accomplished painfully but involved Jay and Mary getting a head collar on them and going for it using a set of horse clippers. Well use what you have I reckon, fair enough they are sheep after all. So after they kicked struggled, baahed, cushed and spat like llamas they got sorted. No fancy clipped patterns but ready for the summer. I asked about the wool. “Dad, get real, its amongst the straw in the stable if you want it.” Maybe not. We had a set of Wolseley shears when we had sheep. You could run them off of a Wolseley stationary engine which we also had. Had what was described a ‘tulip top’ cooling system which was a cast iron serrated bowl that you filled with water. My favourite was always the Lister D which was far simpler and chuffed for the Empire. I seem to have lost the plot. Long way on Mary and me are going hair dyeing as she has discovered she isn’t as blonde as she thought and my once a year early season haircut has been scuppered. Thing is with all this isolating she might just pretend she has dyed her hair?

Radiotelephony Manual – New edition out now Roger
The Radiotelephony Manual (CAP 413) has been updated. First published in September 1978 it is now at Edition 23 which includes updates to the Foreword, Definitions, Military Callsigns and numerous editorial changes. It is quite hefty these days having 368 pages but, somewhat bizarrely, the pages are numbered according to the chapter meaning there are a lot of page ones and the highest page number you will find is 78. Do you copy that Victor? There is a lovely bit on how to talk to aerodromes that are unattended, as in no one there. Chapter 4 page 71. An emotional read. It was been published on 09 April 2020 and becomes effective on 8 June 2020.

The Man in the Moon – Celebrating Sunset and Moonshine
Just before we all got banged up and The Swan closed in true Pork Pie Friday off the cuff sort of thing we decided that as the evening was so fine we’d clutter up Coombe Hill claimed to be the highest point in the Chilterns topped off with a rather nice memorial to the men of Bucks who fell in the Boer War known locally as The Monument. The hill and Monument have a rather colourful history. I feel a artifact coming on. Anyway off we set Stewpot, Godders, Polly and I. It was a lovely evening and the sun was shining. Bit of a breeze but nothing too outlandish. Talk swung to the Longest Day Celebrations and how much beer we could carry. Polly busied herself with muntjac and sheep spotting. Up the top it was windy but there were quite a few people enjoying the clear views across the Vale. We wondered how many noticed that, off to the left, the last remnants of Didcot Power Station, the chimney, had departed the scene. Bit of a shame really as it was a beast of a thing and great for checking your track. Godders handed round the silver cups and poured us a drop or two of sloe gin. We sought a shelter in the lea of one of the plinths and drunk a toast or two. The sun slid horizontally along dragging its setting out for as long as possible before suddenly deciding to drop vertically somewhere over the distant course of the Ridgeway near Chinnor. That was that. We recovered a somewhat flat football from Polly and returned it to its sobbing child and headed back down. As we approached Old Knoll, one of two little realised burial mounds not far from the ‘Man in the Moon’ incident in 1768 and the Battle of the Hills in 1906 we stopped in awe as a bright beam streamed up above Wendover Woods opposite. We’d forgotten the Full Moon was due. We watched as it became a bright spot and then burst clear of the treetops and hung massively in the sky showing Polly and a rounded up flock of sheep on top of Knoll himself. As darkness descended we gave Polly a whistle and headed for the pub. Typically as we tripped our way down the moon dropped back down vanishing as if had never been there. Now the High Street is well-known for having a rather fine alignment when it comes to Moonrises and we often get a fair number of photographers turning up to get a shot so it was only right and proper we took the time to watch it rise again and rise again. It did, this time creeping spookily through a low band of cloud. We all congratulated each other for having seen a sunset, turning around and seeing a moonrise and then seeing the Full Moon rise a second time. Time for beer but not before accidentally tripping over a couple of enthusiastic cameramen who, pointing enthusiastically, enquired if we’d seen the Moon now a very large globe hanging above the village.

Certificate of Revalidation – All you need to know!
Following contact from Richard Allen, UK CAA, Ian Chadwick, Chairman of the Panel of Balloon Examiners and attempts to explain the fundamentals of renewing, or is it revalidating, the Certificate of Revalidation which pilot’s with “new style” CAA licences will note forms an area on the front of their actual A4 sized pilot licence sheet with a number of boxes available for completion by Flight Examiners (FEs), this was published in the British Balloon & Airship Club’s Pilots’ Circular. As many Commercial Pilots are not in fact in the BBAC here it is. It seems that when the CAA introduced the Certificate of Revalidation to UK national pilot licences (in order to ensure commonality with Part-FCL pilot licences) there were some changes required to the UK Air Navigation Order that “have escaped” many UK licensed balloon pilots, instructors and examiners until now. As there is no revalidation requirement for the UK PPL(BA), the information here is aimed at holders of the UK CPL(B). The revalidation of either a Certificate of Test (Cof T) or a Certificate of Experience (C.of E) must now be completed on the Certificate of Revalidation, not on the old Certificate of Test or a Certificate of Experience sheets. Confused? If you weren’t this should help. Probably won’t. Pour a large one if you’ve got any left.

The CAA are concerned that not all balloon FEs seem to be aware that the rules for signing the Certificate of Revalidation are different depending on whether the candidate pilot is in need of revalidation or renewal of their C.of T or C.of E.
“Revalidation” is when the rating in question remains valid on the day of the examiner’s review of the candidate. “Renewal” is when the rating in question has already expired on the day of the examiner’s review of the candidate. The Certificate of Test is already well understood by balloon FEs. If it is a “Revalidation” then (provided that the FE also holds the said valid rating) the examination flight may take place on a commercial passenger ballooning / public transport flight. But, if it is a “Renewal”, then the examination flight must take place on a private / non- commercial flight. Actually, Schedule 8, Part 3, Chapter 1, Table 5 of the Air Navigation Order (ANO) requires “complete such training…” in the case of a “Renewal”, but all FE CPL(B)s and TREs already ensure this by checking currency and recency. Of course, if a balloon pilot has expired by more than four years, extra training will be required following individual review by Senior Examiners or by the CAA. However, the Certificate of Experience presents us with a problem since FEs are often asked to sign these when Commercial Operation (was Aerial Work) pilots see an examiner, say at a ballooning event. Further, examiners rarely charge a fee for this, since no examination flight itself actually takes place, just a recency / currency review and the completion of some paperwork. I would therefore suggest that the vast majority of signing a candidate’s Certificates of Experience are in cases where the previous C.of E has (long) expired. Therefore, these are “Renewals”, not “Revalidations”.

Schedule 8, Part 3, Chapter 1, Table 5 of the ANO is quite clear. What the ballooning sector knows as a C.of E can only be “Revalidated” (not “Renewed”) based on logbook evidence. If the candidate’s C.of E has already expired, then “Renewal” is required and this requires a Licensing Proficiency Check (LPC) / Certificate of Test, (but not, of course an Operator Proficiency Check (OPC) / Base and Line Check).
All balloon FEs have been advised of the above and have been requested to become familiar with Schedule 8 of the ANO, particularly Part 3, Chapter 1, Table 5. Additionally, we are now promulgating this fact through Pilot’s Circular to all UK CPL(B) holders. The BBAC officers that are already working directly with the CAA on Balloon FCL pilot licence transition arrangements are mindful of the above and are working to see if any alleviation (from the need for a UK CPL(B) holder who wishes to undertake Commercial Operations (Aerial Work)– not Commercial Passenger Ballooning – must undertake a full C.of T check flight if his/her previous C.of E has already expired). Given the current COVID- 19 situation, it is likely that most UK C.of E. holders will be affected by this matter. The BBAC will offer updated advice on this matter as their liaison with UK CAA develops over the coming months.

Extensions to validity periods for everything
EASA has formulated a response to the Covid19 crisis to support aviation. Initially this is concentrating on “aircrew” and “engineers”. Each national CAA is issuing its own series of “exemptions” or equivalent following from the EASA response. So far, UK CAA has issued an exemption ORS4 No1354 covering professional pilots (does not include CPL Balloon pilots) Published on 23 March, I read it and it doesn’t have diddly about balloons in it and will only boil your brains. Exemptions to cover balloon pilots are apparently in preparation. The British Balloon & Airship Club will advise via the BBAC Forum and perhaps a special Pilots Circular when more information is available. Paul Spellward (BBAC lots of hats person) reckons that, ‘Based on the exemption issued by the Netherlands CAA, we can expect: All EASA Medical Certificates (Class 2, LAPL, Class 1) have their validity extended by four months. A set of extensions to validity periods for Part BFCL license periodic checks (which won’t be relevant to most UK pilots yet). We anticipate similar alleviations for the UK licenses (e.g. validity of a “C of T”), which of course remain valid throughout 2020. Discussions are in progress as to whether it is necessary or feasible to extend validity periods for Airworthiness Review Certificates and annual or hours-related Inspections. Information will be provided when finalised’.

Even more confusion solutions stuff
UK to leave EASA – Comments from British Balloon & Airship Club
Published on 8th March 2020, Paul Spellward, Chairman BBAC and Phil Dunnington, Chairman BBAC Flying Committee, put together this tretease (sic) on what they think might happen in the realm of ballooning following the departure of the UK from EASA. Basically nothing. But worth a read. Please bear in mind that within the UK the BBAc is the negotiating member with the CAA but that isn’t to say that low and high shots get popped at them form other interested parties. Our biggest concern that currently if you own a UK registered series balloon, as in Annex II, you will not be able to fly it on a UK licence. Personally I reckon this is unacceptable and maybe a touch of civil disobedience may be required. Its all to do with Annex II balloons built within the EU being EASA-type approved thus requiring an EASA licence to fly them. Now unless I’m missing something we are no longer in the EU and we are leaving EASA? I would have thought that this problem should be pretty near the top of the concerns of the BBAC.

So, in their own words…
‘The BBAC notes the announcement from 7th March that UK will leave EASA at the end of 2020. It could be speculated that this is a negotiating tactic by the government and we can see the immediate and adverse reaction from the aviation industry. Obviously, final clarity will come later and BBAC will, of course, await definitive guidance from UK CAA on the consequences for UK ballooning. However, given the immediate flow of questions from BBAC members, the following comments are offered as current BBAC understanding, comments and best guesses. Until 31st December 2020, all current legislation remains in place and after that date there would be the potential for divergence by UK from EASA rules. The best guidance for what will happen on 1st Jan 2021 is that published by CAA on its “Brexit minisite”. This was updated to cover the “not a member of EASA” scenario as opposed to the “no deal” scenario. For example, they go through in detail how EASA licences will simply become UK licences with exactly the same rules. HYPERLINK “”

For UK balloons, we already have EASA C of A / Continuing Airworthiness regime which would move to a UK C of A / Continuing Airworthiness regime with the same requirements. We would expect no issues within UK and minimal issues, if any, with airworthiness of UK balloons being accepted overseas. There would be little likelihood of any changes from the established (under EASA since 2008) standards and procedures. We already have the move of Inspectors to Part 66 Engineers in process and do not see that being reversed since the law is already in force. For UK balloon flying, we have EASA Operations which would move to UK Operations with the same requirements. Whilst some people might advocate going back to UK national AOCs, the current system (running since April 2019) seems simpler and it’s unlikely to be a government or CAA priority to change it. For UK pilots, we have EASA Part FCL licensing in force but postponed by a “Derogation” until 8th April 2020. This will be superseded by EASA Part BFCL provided that specific regulation, which was published after the Brexit date, but during the (Brexit) transition period, is incorporated into UK law. So, we would expect at 1st January 2021 (without EASA membership) for the EASA Part BFCL licences to move to UK Part BFCL licences with the same requirements. The alternative of getting UK Part FCL would be very poor, since after five years of work, Part BFCL is much better and lighter regulation than Part FCL.

We have no information at this time on whether the UK PPL(BA), which is not being cancelled in any circumstances, could be re-enabled to fly all balloons (as opposed to only Annex 1 balloons) within the UK in the event of UK no longer following EASA rules. BBAC would push for this, but it’s not clear how far up the priority list such a request for modifications to UK law would be. A priority for BBAC would continue to be to lobby for the medical requirement for the Part BFCL Balloon Pilot Licence (BPL) to be reduced to the self declared medical. This is likely to be more achievable with a UK Part BFCL BPL and would then achieve the objective of allowing all current pilots who hold a self-declaration to continue their flying within the UK. Whatever happens in UK, it can be expected that a UK Part BFCL (or UK Part FCL) licence will be readily accepted for flying in Europe, supported by the LAPL or Class 2 medical as appropriate, since it would comply
with local rules in Europe. It will probably become less easy to use a UK National licence to fly in Europe. The UK PPL(BA) already needs a Class 2 medical to support it outside UK (ICAO compliant licence and ICAO compliant medical). Furthermore, a licence “validation” may be required, which involves an expensive process of the foreign CAA consulting the UK CAA at the pilot’s expense. For the time being, BBAC will continue with its programme of education and readiness for the Part BFCL licensing. If any changes arise due to the EASA membership change announced for 1st January 2021, updates will be issued through all channels: The BBAC (website) Forum, Pilots Circular and BBAC Facebook.
To conclude: nothing changes with the transition to Part BFCL nor with training arrangements under the DTO from 8th April. Please continue to follow the BBAC guidance as published in the February Pilots Circular.’

And Finally – No flying keeps birds happy
Just because we are all feeling down in the dumps because we can’t fly those masters of the air, the birds, are currently not only finding communicating easier on account of not being drowned out by low flying Stellios and Mick O’Leary, not to be confused with Timothy Leary who flew his Astral Cloud according to The Moody Blues, but also to getting some peace and quiet so they can have a jolly good dawn chorus not drowned out by balloon burners but also seek out places usually busy like bulk tank content covers. So Stewpot was not that surprised when, upon opening the lid to see how much gas he had left in his bulk tank, he discovered that whatever happens he won’t be flying anytime at all soon!