Balloon Repair Station

News 06.06.2020

Same Old Same Old? Yes and No
Well now, at the risk of sounding like a stuck Abba LP that gets turned into a flower vase all the main news seems to be COVID related. We are not really paying much heed to the news on the radio or TV these days, there is enough to read. Almost every CAA/EASA notification that comes through is COVIC related. Either cleaning procedures or which airports (including all the UK ones that are open!) to avoid, understandable and appropriate of course, but it doesn’t make returning to even the new normal look likely for a while yet. Anyway hidden amongst the stuff are items not related to the epidemic or, come to that, balloons (I hope).

Easy Balloons and Covid 19 update
You may have already read this in the ‘Welcome’ bit but as some come straight to ‘News’ here it is slightly expanded. Our continued closure was taken following a lot of thought and discussion. We have brought forward our review date from 1st August to 1st July following further relaxations of the Lock-down measures. Having seen the effects of the relaxation of the measures first hand, and been confronted by a number of people that seem to think the all-clear as been given, we are now very cautious of expanding our possible exposure. Our Pete has just completed his seventh belting of chemo and now has five to go. I’m very pleased to say that the last scan showed that the treatment is working well and at present there are no signs of the tumour. This is great news and the consultant is very pleased that the tumour has been ‘managed’ so that any re-appearance can be picked up quickly. Jane’s dad is doing well and whizzing towards a 101, keen not to miss the cancelled trip to Dunkirk now set for next year. He escaped the beaches via The Mole on 31st May so we celebrated his return in due style more elsewhere. So bottom line is that currently we remain closed and are not planning to carry out any inspections or repairs until July 1st, at the earliest, when we will revue the situation. We realise that a return to balloon flying is now in progress and that solo flying and same-household flights are now permitted. If you choose to take advantage of this and require an inspection please use another inspector, plan your flight thoroughly and take great care.

We have now issued a COVID-19 guide for inspecting for both our customers and inspectors which is reproduced as an article elsewhere and is free to copy and use as required. It has been tried and seems to be working well. Some of our inspectors are now inspecting but not all and are now processing the paperwork as required. We probably won’t be flying this year, or at least until the rules concerning social distancing change dramatically.

For us things have been complicated as a result of HS2 preventing use and access to the field behind the workshop and the Black Horse field is also closed. We have been trying to find a new inspection site but this is, understandably, proving very difficult at the moment. With the latest Government relaxation of lock-down restrictions we have seen things in our area go haywire with a huge increase in visitor numbers, which is rather worrying. Over the past weekend there have been two fires caused locally by barbeques, one on a local farmers’ land and one on Coombe Hill, the local beauty spot. On top of this the level of rubbish and litter from picnicing has increased dramatically. As a result the feelings of the local community, including the farmers, is not good. Personally, having discussed it at some length, we have taken the decision to wait and see whether or not there will be a spike, localised or not, in the coming weeks and, as we have said, revue the situation on July 1st. Please remember that there is no problem with the CofA or ARC expiring and once measures allow you to feel comfortable about going flying again, if we are in a position to do so, we will do all we can to get you airborne.
Categories: Autogyros, Balloons, Flight training private, Gliders, Microlights, Private pilot aeroplane, Private pilot helicopter
COVID-19: Government guidance for recreational flying

The Department for Transport has updated it’s COVID-19 guidance for recreational flying to include clarification of social distancing and link to Scottish Guidance.

You can see the new guidance at:

CAA go softly softly regards a safe return to flying – nice one.
The CAA have circulated a polite considered note on the pitfalls of the return to flying along with some pretty simple straightforward advice. I rather think the bottom line is to remember you are going to be a out of practice and don’t assume any airspace requirements have changed or that airfields are closed. There have been some ‘interesting incidents in the past few weeks some of which made the national news. The CAA have therefore stated that;

‘While some elements of GA are still restricted by COVID requirements we know that much of the community has returned to flying. We have received many reports of how the sector has safely and thoughtfully started flying but also, unfortunately, we have been asked to investigate a larger than normal set of incidents. This includes reports of aircraft flying over built-up areas below the legal minimum height and a significant number of infringements where pilots are flying through airspace they believe to have been deactivated but is in fact operational.

Before you go flying, please see the safety advice on our website.’

Peter Langford 17.02.29 – 24.05.20
Sad to hear our old friend Peter Langford passed away at the very respectable age of 91 on 24th May 2020. He is well remembered when he, along with Chris ‘Paddington’ Marshall and John Coleman came for a bit of a crammer prior to having to sit the Air Law exam to get a CPL. Bit rich we all thought at the time and very humbling.

Pete Bish wrote of him, ‘Peter goes back to the earliest days in modern ballooning, as a member of the London BalloonClub, formed mainly from glider pilots from the London Gliding Club at Dunstable. He gained his licence in 1969 and was an early instructor and balloon inspector , becoming the Chairman of the BBAC Technical Committee later. He will be remembered for flying one of the early commercial balloons ‘Esso” G-AZSP and rates as first ‘commercial’ customer when we made a trailer cover for him in 1972! After a long stint on the commercial circuit Peter took full advantage of the UK CPL (Balloons) introduced in 1989 and worked for many yearsin Kenya flying ov er 9000 passengers over the Masai Mara. He used to comment that, “Most people in the UK work ‘nine to five’ but my hours are ‘five to nine’, the rest of the day is mine.” As a member of of the main BBAC committee your scribes recall him being given the task of divi-ing the bill at the much needed post meeting to a London eatery. It seemed to be a complicated task depending on who ate/drank what, but the end result of Peter’s deliberation was always accepted without question! Condolences to Diane. Peter was one of our sport’s characters and will be fondly remembered.’

Ultramagic COVID-19 Balloon Cleaning Service Instruction Issued
Service Instruction SI02/20 Iss.2 – Balloon cleaning and disinfection has been issued by Ultamagic. This is a must read and we give it a 5star rating. It has loads of stuff about stuff that is harmful that you shouldn’t use. Seeing’s all balloons are made of pretty much the same stuff this is really helpful. Just in case you are in a Spanish speaking lockdown isolated spot on the planet its also available as Service Instruction SI02/20 Iss.2 – Limpieza y desinfección del Globo (Spanish). We tried thje link and it said no so you might have to access it through the Ultramagic Website Support bit.

Recreational flying in England
Summing up the latest published stuff from the CAA, as most are now well aware GA flying is now allowed from English airfields or flying sites if social distancing measures are strictly observed. In practice this means that only the following flights are permitted: solo flights, flights where everyone is from the same household, flights in aircraft where social distancing measures can be maintained – such as tandem cockpits spaced by more than 2 metres, or occupancy of separate parts of the aircraft structure. This is because it’s not generally possible to observe social distancing during a GA flight.

Please note that the current relaxations only apply to England and Northern Ireland. For information relating to Scotland and Wales, please consult the website of the relevant devolved administration. It is expected that there may be further relaxation in early July providing the COVID-19 situation continues to improve.

More sadness – Geli Lex
Following the sad death of Steve Burden we were most upset to learn that his horse passed away shortly after. Worse came when we heard on 29th May that his partner Geli Lex died on 29th May. Not much left to say really. Our deepest condolences go out to all. Both will be greatly missed. A ceremony is to be held in the Netherlands with a further one, for a small gathering of close family and friends, in Germany.

Bay City Rollers Number?
You’ll have to work that out but it contains ‘doo wop bee dooby doo ay’. So, we have a link to Flydoo’s latest wheeze. With the bold statement “Balloonists! You will LOVE this! Yes we know, those are times of uncertainty, but we are sending you a spark of hope and positivity, by launching a project we are proud to support: the “Thank You Balloon” project, or TYB.!” they are creating a balloon through Crowd-funding. This could well be a great PR exercise and make the re-appearance of balloons floating in the skies a happy sight to behold. We reckon that is great concept.

Leandro Corradini, founder & CEO of FlyDOO writes, ‘The TYB will be the first crowdfunded balloon ever, and will carry more than a thousand messages of all the backers that will support us on our next Kickstarter campaign! It will carry messages of Gratitude from people to people, which not only will represent the most original gift ever, but will ignite the start of a Thank You Chain, that will contribute to perpetuate thankfulness! It will be flown at the major balloon festivals around the world and by volunteer pilots during a Coast to Coast 2021 USA Tour! Want to fly it? Join the TYB now! Spread positivity! Support the TYB Project by sharing its story around you, following it on Facebook and joining the Group! Stay tuned on campaign updates and do not miss the EARLY BIRD perks!’
We had a job finding it on the Kickstarter Crowd-funding site so to find out more they are on faceache or visit their website for information on the project check out

Ride balloons remain in Lock-down
In case you had forgotten the picture harkens back to happier times for the Ride Balloon businesses and the likes of Andy Rawson in the Broadland Balloon last year enjoying what he does best. Steve Richards, spokesperson for the CBA (Commercial Balloon Association), the recently renamed British Association of Balloon Operators (BABO), sent us the following statement on the situation with the UK Ride Operators. Their situation is very different to the private pilots who have now been permitted, along with other general aviation, to fly solo or with same household members. The CAA restriction on the ride balloons is understandable as social distancing in a 16 man balloon is going to be tricky. The other factor is the reluctance on the part of many of the passengers themselves to mix with others, something that, throughout society at large, will take time to be acceptable whilst COVD-19 cases are still being reported. Hopefully there may be small alleviations in July but social distancing remains the stumbling block for the big ride balloons.

‘All commercial balloon flights are suspended during the current period of Covid 19 restrictions, in particular the guidance and legislation relating to social distancing. With effect from 15 May private balloon flights are permitted, providing the balloon is flown with a solo pilot, or members from the pilot’s same isolated household, but again this amendment specifically excludes the operation of commercial balloons.

The Commercial Ballooning Association (CBA) is in regular contact with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority including weekly video briefing meetings, and provides regular updates to commercial balloon operators. The CBA have confirmed that steps are being taken to ensure a rapid and smooth return to flying when the restrictions, particularly the distancing requirements, are eased, but no commercial flights may take place until that time.

If you hold a flight voucher, the CBA advice is to contact the voucher issuer or balloon operator for further information.’

New leader for CAA
The Transport Secretary has announced that the new chair for the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be Sir Stephen Hillier. He will take his seat on 1st August 2020 replacing Dame Diedre Hutton DBE, who steps down after serving for 11 years. He started flying with a simple PPL then through an RAF career which included flying Tornado aircraft in the 1991 Gulf War and eventually became the Head of the Royal Air Force, retiring in 2019. Grant stated that he is his preferred candidate to “Lead the aviation industry through Covid-19 and future challenges presented by the virus.”

Amongst his many tasks he will need to balance airlines’ immediate requirement needs resulting from reduced passenger demand, with consumer issues such as the refund backlog due to cancelled services. Hillier will be expected to support the government’s vision to decarbonise and modernise the industry, and to inspire young people into aviation careers.

Sir Stephen will oversee the enhancement of the CAA’s reputation as a leading aviation regulator, as the UK leaves the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This will include preparing the organisation to certify the design of new aviation products and formulating proposals for aviation safety legislation.

Hillier will also build on the Government’s vision to innovate and modernise the aviation industry, making flying greener and more efficient, as well as driving cutting-edge technologies to ensure the UK maintains its position as a world leader in aviation. Minister Grant Shapps said: “Sir Stephen’s incredible knowledge and experience in aviation will be invaluable during this period and I’m confident he will excel addressing the challenges presented by Covid-19. I am also excited to work with him and support the Civil Aviation Authority’s new vision once the industry is back on its feet.”

Yippee Camerons Re-opens
Great to hear that Cameron Balloons are up and running again. With around half their staff back in they are now getting back to building balloons, carrying out repairs and generally getting on with it. Obviously many of their employees are unable to return on account of kids at home or shielding but as time progresses hopefully they will get back to full strength. The factory has had a jolly good wipe down and now smells of Dettol. A one-way system has been instigated and everything done to make it a safe working environment. Currently they are open for spares, repairs and inspections but only by prior arrangement and no admittance is permitted so stuff needs to be dropped off and collected. Opening hours are 8.30-16.00. Welcome back chaps. Enquiries by email to or telephone 0117 963 7216. Strictly no visitors.

EASA SIB 2020-07 Preparation of Aerodromes to Resume Operations
With the relaxation on flying EASA has produced Safety information Bulletin SIB 2020-07 regarding the re-opening of airfields. Please be aware that if you choose to land on an airfield that it may well still be closed limiting access.

EASA SIB 2020-07 was issued 04 May 2020. Please note that the CAA recommendations concerning GA operations in the UK remains in force. This SIB is part of a project to provide guidance to allow the return to normal operations when permitted and it is the first of several anticipated communications from EASA related to this project across domains.

Although this is primarily aimed at Aerodromes and their operators it is worth a read through to help understand the work that will be required to be carried out by aerodromes of all sizes. It may be that in some cases permission for landings may be declined until the aerodrome is considered fully operational again.

Description: Following the outbreak of COVID-19 and due to the limitations imposed by individual States, the majority of flights have been suspended. Aerodromes have been forced to scale down or suspend their operations until flights resume. Furthermore, in many aerodromes across Europe, operational areas such as runways and taxiways are used for the long-term parking of grounded aircraft; aerodrome systems such as airfield lighting and radio navigation aids have been switched-off and regular inspections and maintenance may not always be performed according to schedule.

Although it is not defined yet when operations will restart, it is important that aerodromes are prepared in order to resume operations safely. For this reason, under their safety management system and in cooperation with air navigation service providers, the aerodrome operators should establish a plan that should be implemented prior to the start of operations. At this time, the safety concern described in this SIB is not considered to be an unsafe condition that would warrant Safety Directive (SD) action under Regulation (EU) 139/2014, Annex II, ADR.AR.A.040.

Recommendation(s): The following recommendations aim to support the safe operation of aircraft at an aerodrome, and should be considered along with any other instructions related to health and security issues, as well as the provision of ground handling services.
Aerodrome operators together with air navigation service providers, when preparing to resume operations, are recommended to consider in their plan at least the following:
1. Overall inspection of the paved, unpaved surfaces and surroundings, paying attention to:
(i) general cleanliness, presence of foreign object debris and any signs of damage to the pavement surface, which could pose a risk to the aircraft operations;
(ii) leakages and depressions due to long term parked aircraft;
(iii) presence of wildlife, which might have increased in the absence of regular operations;
(iv) condition of fences;
(v) drainage systems;
(vi) the state of the vegetation to ensure that lights, signs and markers are not obstructed;
(vii) condition of movement area markings to ensure adequate visibility;
(viii) markings and lighting of authorised obstacles, and any new unauthorised obstacles particularly temporary in nature (e.g. mobile cranes) which may impact on the safe operation of aircraft.
2. The proper functioning of the electrical power supply systems for air navigation facilities and lighting system, including signs.
3. The proper functioning of the radio and other navigation aids.
4. Rescue and firefighting level of protection in accordance with the expected traffic and rescueand firefighting services vehicles and equipment are properly functioning.
5. Alarm system for the notification of rescue and firefighting services is functioning. 6. Communication systems used during normal and emergency operations are functioning. 7. Aircraft parked on the manoeuvring area do not infringe the obstacle limitation surfaces, the
critical and sensitive areas of radio navigation aids serving the active runway(s) and the line of sight of air traffic control. Information on such closed parts of the manoeuvring area is made available through a notice to airmen (NOTAM).
8. Emergency access roads of rescue and firefighting vehicles to the active runway(s) are unobstructed.
9. If a runway or other sections within the manoeuvering area are closed due to parked aircraft, the lighting and radio navigation aids of the runway or the section exclusively are switched off and a NOTAM is issued.
10. Capability for removal of disabled aircraft.
11. Availability and competency of staff to carry out their tasks and human factor associated risks due to reduced activity levels.
12. Any reported actions are planned and implemented, before resuming operations if needed, including training, inspections, compliance monitoring, corrective action plans (CAPs).
13. The published information in Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), AIP Supplement (AIP-SUP) and NOTAM in respect to the actual aerodrome operational situation.
14. Facilities and equipment used for aircraft fuelling provide the aircraft with uncontaminated fuel and of the correct specification.
15. Construction or maintenance work sites are appropriately marked and lighted. For ongoing changes or when resuming construction works, ensure hypothesis and mitigating measures are still relevant and implemented.
For further information contact the EASA Aerodromes Standards & Implementation Section, Flight Standards Directorate, E-mail:

This is information only. Recommendations are not mandatory.
TE.CAP.00117-007 © European Union Aviation Safety Agency. All rights reserved. ISO9001 Certified. Proprietary document. Copies are not controlled. Confirm revision status through the EASA-Internet/Intranet

What happens to old Westfalias?
Regular visitors may recall that for a while we had the remains of an old Westfalia trailer laying upturned on the hard standing. Well after much of it got robbed to repair more fortunate examples it was finally broken up and that was that. There are a few bits left which we will put on in the for sale bit soon. The floor was unceremoniously hacked out and deposited in the back of the Open Barn with the thought that it ‘would come in handy for something’ but it was pretty naff all round the edges. Well as with all things ‘useful’ when Paul the tallest man in Wendover took on an allotment (yep we’re all at it) we offered him the old shed that had lain in the back of the Open Barn for years. “Needs a floor and a bit of repair,” we explained. So it was that on a sunny Saturday with social distancing in place it was dragged out, mended painted and made good. Floor? No problem biff, baff, saw and sort and there was one out of the old Westfalia Trailer. Now here’s the thing. The trailer, although moved on a couple of times, was the original Buckshot balloon one owned by Mr Peter Dowlen, renowned countrywide for his amazing lottie in Prestwood. How appropriate then that it would once again be close to spuds and self-sufficeincy. It was a very happy floor then that was finally loaded up with the rest of the treated shed and dropped down the village. Understandable really as trailers seldom get much of a social life. As if meant to be the Wendover Allotment Association (Castle Park) is celebrating its 100 years this year (just like Jane’s dad Edward who re-potted for Dunkirk Day). We’ll go and pay a further visit and see how it is doing. Nice to see the ghostly shape made by the spare wheel is still there though!

Just in Roger wilco wingco
Can’t get over and out that the Radiotelephony Manual (CAP413), only just recently given a makeover was republished on 8 June 2020 with an effective date of 17 August 2020. Edition 23 Corr (dated 8 June 2020), replaces Edition 23 (published 9 April 2020) in its entirety. We reckon ‘Corr’ must mean ‘corrected’ and has nothing to do with Coronoviris as fist thought. How refreshing.

Fat Rascals return
Knock on the door the other morning revealed Whizzy, our post lady holding a very handsome box. What could be in this we wondered? A few days earlier we’d been doing a bit of a phone round and it was Heather Philp’s turn to get an ear bent for an hour. Life in deepest Cornwall was reported as all well and good and chat with Bollie (her son) revealed he is still selling old torn and tatty jeans to Americans for an outrageous price. Love it, anyway getting back to the original matter we gratefully took the box and goodness me it was only from Betty’s in Harrogate. Inside were Fat Rascals. Sadly our Mary heard about them so they didn’t last long. Anyone on the circuit that went anywhere remotely near Harrogate were always expected to get Fat rascals for the troops. What a lovely thing.