Balloon Repair Station

News 14.08.2023

Cripes loads of updates
Despite our absence from the Welcome bit, News and general article stuff we have been trying to keep the Airworthiness Directives, Service Bulletins, Manual issues and Type Certification Data Sheet current issues recorded in the Pages bit of the website. Other bits have also changed like Inspectors in the Field contact details and Ride Operators. Generally we only list those that are in our Combined Airworthiness Organisation. On the Events side this has largely been overlooked so apologies there. It is the next thing to look at. Items for sale is now going to be our items for sale. It doesn’t get looked at very much mainly as there is nothing much in it so that is that. We’ll stick in a few links that may help. Zebedee Balloon Services now have a quite good items for sale pages on their website with pictures and all which is always worth a peek. For non-computerists the Zebedee List is still available as an A4 list.

Cameron Alugas Cylinders
Following the Airworthiness Directive CAA .AD G2022-0010E that effectively removed their CB2990 IssueA Alugas cylinders from service (affected cylinders OC25001 to OC25202 and QI14001 to QI14496) due to a manufacturing fault, Camerons have now issued Alert Service Bulletin SB33 Rev 2. The latest update to Alert Service Bulletin issued by Camerons (Rev2 June 2023) permanently withdraws all CB2990 IssueA cylinders from service. In most cases Cameron Balloons have lent replacement cylinders to the owners of affected cylinders. For details on how to swap your Issue A Alugas cylinders for shiny new Alugas Issue B cylinders contact Cameron Balloons direct. The most obvious difference between the two is the top plate that takes the twiddly bits. On the Issue A ones the fittings are screwed directly into the flat plain top plate which is welded almost flush to the dished end. On the Issue B type the top plate is clearly raised above the dished end and the fittings screw in to raised bosses. If you get offered a CB2990 then make sure it is an Issue 2 type. The cylinder details are engraved on the side of the guard ring the (currently) seven digit serial number prefixed by the letters ’ATP’. A bit further down the part number should read CB2990-B. It will interesting to see if the sharp edges that these cylinders suffered badly from have also been polished out a bit.–Temporary-withdrawal-from-service_4.pdf

Cameron Flight Manual update.
With our exit from the EU and EASA bit by bit everything is getting back to being British including the wording! This means that the Manuals have to be updated to reflect current terminology. As with all things paperwork nonsense this is also reflected in the Type Certification Data Sheets (TCDS) which are now UK approved in many cases rather than EASA although some have been adopted! With us so far? Thing is all balloons under the Cameron umbrella, including Sky and Lindstrand Balloons Ltd have lovely new UK issued TCDSs. In line with this the latest edition Flight Manual has to have UK CAA type wording in it so now all such balloons under Cameron have to use Flight Manual 10-18 along wit any Supplements required. When and if asked yo now eed to state that you ae using FM issue10-18 and the appropriate supplements. Downloads are free from Cameron Balloons Ltd. Stick them on your phone or laptop.

Harvest Away
The more observant of you may have noticed that the cereal crops are now being gathered apace. Every year it gets earlier and more fraught with finding a run of suitable weather. This year is no exception. Early warmth and good rainfall helped many get pretty good crops in. The new(ish) farm combine did its job well despite a couple of small setbacks. When the time came to get it ready for the harvest it was noticed that there was a lot of buzzing coming from the cab. A rather large swarm of bees had decided to make their home in the air conditioning pipework behind the cab. Now it was touch and go if they could be evicted prior to harvest. The door was left open and much noise made. Bees are not like wasps who, if their peace and quiet is disturbed, will come out en-masse and attack. Bees don’t really do that. Plan B was to move the combine up the yard. A few days later Farmer Jay braved it in the afternoon when it was reckoned the majority would be out at work away over the fields. This seemed to work but eventually a few dozen bees were ranged along the windscreen to view the proceedings. It was moved up to the grain store without incident whereupon FJ did a smart runner leaving the door open. Now those returning to the old parking spot were temporarily confused but set up a new home in bales that acted as a wind break and those then leaving the combine eventually went and joined them. With days to spare all sorted. Just a bit of removing the air filters from the AC ducts and blowing out the remainder and the hive out from the inside. Anyway super smashing to say harvest all in by 0300 Saturday morning and last of the bales also in before the rain. One slight hiccup which would have meant that it would have been in Friday afternoon was the compulsory rear wheel falling off. Combines are good at that.

Bishy’s Biffa out
The Zebedee Emporium at Haywards Cross has finally had a jolly good sort out. After over 50 years of Zebedee and 40 of then taken up with buying and selling balloons and equipment Celia and Pete have decided to get shot of the piles of stuff taken in part exchange or left by hopeful customers to sell on their behalf. As Pete reports, ‘As any visitor to our base will testify we had accumulated a large collection of envelopes, baskets, burners and fans – many of them lodged mainly by retiring owners or taken in part exchanges for us to sell. Many items have already been sold through The Zebedee List with more to follow, many with current UK ARCs, Form1s and the like. Others need work to make them serviceable, or are ‘past it’ for further flying so are suitable only for non-flying duties’. As they discover stuff they’ll stick it in the List and on the website. Pete and Celia’s decision at the moment is only to call a halt to new deliveries of such items so that when the end comes the barn is hopefully not full of unsold items. There is no plan to to close Zebedee’s other functions – The Zebedee List, small sales, including used items and our sewing/repair business. Now we do wonder how much, if anything, actually go in the Biffa…..

And in a similar vein
We are also clearing stuff out. Must be infectious. Currently we are being a bit selective and reluctantly slow I’m afraid. We do have a nice bottom end comprising a CB300-4A basket in very tidy condition and a low-houred double Shadow burner with new hoses. To follow will be fans and an envelope or two. Might even sort out the cylinders but as these get lent out whilst we test others then that may not happen immediately. Thinking about it we’ll have to find out who we’ve lent some of them to!

New kid on the block
Andrew Holly has now become the second UK balloon manufacturer. With the creation of Diamond Balloons and the building of a dedicated balloon workshop he has finally been granted a CAA Approval along with Type Certification and can now build and fly in-house balloons without having to jump through innumerable hoops. Such achievements are worthy of note as it is not only extremely expensive and time-consuming to get such approvals but it takes a fair bit of faith in the future. We wish him and his company well and we’ll try and get down and check out his set up. We’ll take our own tea as we understand they are Earl Grey buffs. Check out TCDS UK.TC.BA.00072 Issue 1 where it currently lists a P.50 sized at 50,000 cu. ft. More no doubt to follow. TCDS at;

When I see an elephant fly
Way back in 1941, in the Walt Disney film Dumbo, the Crows (not those Crows) sung ‘But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything, When I see a elephant fly’. Written by Ned Washington it is brilliant. Got stuff in about ‘I seen a horsefly, I seen a dragonfly, I seen a housefly’ Great stuff. Well there has been a few flying elephants including one for Malcolm Forbes collection, a pink one and one called Peanuts that is bucking. Now Kubicek have built ‘Ellie the Elephant’ based on their BB26E balloon for Mark and Lisa Stokoe. Should put a smile on the face of the kids. Characterising standard shape balloons is now the most popular option for special shapes. There are owls, frogs, penguins a Panther and even Donkey so not that far from a ‘seeing a horsefly’.

Flydoo – Now here come the French
Voila ici baby! FlyDoo have only finally gone and got EASA Type Certification. Like the UK one but French EASA. FlyDOO have been around for quite a few years now designing, developing and building seriously lightweight balloons and kit including systems that can be towed behind a bike. They certainly have the young at heart with their ethos (and the old alike being’s their kit is so light). Not sure where they go from here as far as the UK is concerned but they are already supplying balloon kits for the home-builders. These come with everything you need, probably in a strong box you can use as a basket (only kidding). We’ll have to check to see if they intend to apply for a UK TC or (unlikely) whether the CAA would adopt their current EASA one. Anyway all pretty exciting stuff we reckon especially the electric fan motor. Never thought I’d say it to the French but good luck chaps. Well done. Check them out at

Secrets of the Worthingtons
We do get few cylinders through for Proof Pressure Testing so it isn’t surprising when a few interesting jobbies turn up. Two recent ones, when de-frocked, revealed some of their history . Firstly this 10 gallon Aerostar emblazoned one. The story of Aerostar and Raven Industries is a complicated one that ended up with Ed Yost who founded Raven Industries designing high altitude pressure balloons for the US military and a very lucrative spin-off developing plastic film for use in agriculture. His private interest in lighter than air flight led him coming up with the first modern hot air balloon in 1960 following a specific brief from the US military. As interest grew in the hot air balloon side of things in 1986 Aerostar International was formed as a wholly owned subsidary of Raven Industries and at their height were producing over 200 balloons a year. Sadly the production of Raven Aerostar hot air balloons ceased in 2007. A diminishing market and high insurance costs being blamed. Despite this they continued developing high altitude gas balloons becoming one of the largest manufacturers of research balloons and systems in the world.

Raven Aerostar were eventually acquired by Case New Holland who were interested in their Applied Technology division which also focused in their autonomous equipment which could be used in agriculture, a direct spin off from the high altitude balloon systems. Thus Raven ended up working in the world of precision agricultural machinery and systems whilst Aerostar was sold off to TCOM Holdings and continues to produce and develop all types of high altitude balloons, airships and stuff they can’t talk about. Sadly I failed to tie in the serial number of the cylinder with the stencilling but I suspect it may have been used by Ed Yost and Mr Piccard on their Channel Crossing all those years ago. Well, you never know (o:
Aerostar website
Raven Industries
TCOM Holdings website

Second Wonderful Worthy was a little bit of history all on its own having a lovely original TNT Inter County Tristar delivery sticker on it addressing the cylinder to Thunder Balloons, 75 Leonard Street, London EC2. Thunder Balloons started in 1972 and combined with Colting to become Thunder & Colt in 1980. The cylinder number (for the collectors of such information) is 21191J dated 10.78. Happily it passed its proof pressure test but we had to replace the original liquid valve as it was leaking through the poppet seal. It is now going back to Eire where it will have fine old time and celebrate with a pint or two of Guinness I suspect.

While we are on the subject…
It has become increasingly common to find the self seal valve leaking on the Rego liquid valve fitted to early flight cylinders. Sadly the repair kit for these was discontinued some years ago. Cameron now use a similar valve assembly known affectionally as a ‘Muller BM’. The word MULLER is embossed on the connector body. There is a repair kit for these. There was also a Service Bulletin CBL SB-16 issued concerning leaks from the Poppet Valve so its always worth checking the date on them. Its nearly impossible to see as its on one of the flats at the base, usually the one nearest the guard ring, but I digress. Fact is that many Rego style valves are over 40 years so to be fair have seen a lot of service. Now spraying WD40 down the throat of the valve and repeatedly popping the thing may stop it for a short while but this not a solution or approved repair. To test it turn the fuel on and spray some decent leak detector down between the outer seals so it surrounds the protruding nipple. Leave it a while, these leaks can be slow to show. Any bubbling means it is leaking past the outer seal. This means that if you forget to turn the valve off after refuelling or flight and then leave it in the trailer or garage then any leak could be quite exciting when you open the lid. On the annual inspection it is a failure. Don’t mess about get the complete valve replaced.

Ride Business News
News in this year that Kim Hull’s long running highly successful Balloon Adventures has been sold to Virgin Balloons along with Aerosaurus and Bristol-based Bailey Balloons. Kim Hull, now retired, was last seen heading for Italy. Meanwhile Stuart Seager has flown off all his outstanding passengers and retired so Champagne Balloon Flights are no more.

Whilst all this was going on Wickers World sold off their Norfolk-based Broadland Balloons operation to Old Buckenham-based OB Experiences home of The Old Buckenham Balloon Meet. Must get to that next year. They have a brand new 16 passenger Ultramagic 425 (G-NLBC).
In Northampton a youngster, Matt Rate, has established Vista Balloons offering exclusive balloon flights for up to four people.
Down south Jonathan Greatrix has set up Hampshire-based Atmosphere Balloons and is also offering bespoke flights with the old-fashioned approach that you pay for your flight only when it is confirmed.
In far away York, Ollie Webb’s recently established Yorkshire Balloons has gone from strength to strength and now has a nice new multi-coloured Kubicek BB85Z 12-14 passenger balloon (G-ELMR) with a door in one of the compartments for easy access. I could do with one of them.
For further details check the Ride Operators page or check out their websites. We wish them all every success and thanks for choosing Easy Balloons to be your Combined Airworthiness Organisation.
Broadland Balloons
Vista Balloons
Atmosphere Balloon Flights
Yorkshire Balloons

Dishing the dirt
Over the years we have found all sorts of things in balloon envelopes including exotic insects, shoes, pens a small child (once and quite humpy), grot and dirt various, watches and after being warned a large lump of tree stuck between the inner and outer skin of a Ultramagic double skinned jobbie. Nearly forgot the odd phone. We once got so much desert sand, plants and wildlife we constructed a minature garden and entered it in the local Flower Show. Anyway here is a picture of a couple of gores worth of desert from a recent visitor. Nearly had a bucket full in the end. Good job it was in for a repair and not an inspection. John once lost his wallet in an envelope and on the next inflation it near on fell into the burner. He was truly happy to get it back!

Dark Barn went Airship
Amongst the things we’ve been up to while were away was the very nice task of re-commissioning Bobby Frankham’s G-BXKU a Thunder & Colt AS airship. The envelope itself was in pretty good condition only requiring a few repairs here and there which wasn’t that straightforward considering the bulk of an airship envelope. Despite this John managed to get to the affected parts and do a bit of darning. The gondola did need a bit of a major though. The cylinders needed testing and a complete re-vamp of the valves. The hoses were all done for as in rigid! Now they weave and twist through the framework of the gondola so that wasn’t that straightforward especially as the burners fold for transport so to prevent kinking they have to be routed exactly in the right place. Some of the electrics including the remote igniters needed sorting out as did the wiring for the electric valves. The engine was fine and in hours so apart from a service and new battery it was left alone. Quite a bit of the aluminium trim had to come off for the maintenance so the opportunity was taken to straighten it out before refitting. The padding (loose description) on the seats had had it so they were taken out and given a makeover. Chris Sanger-Davis was called in to inspect it and all was well. I think a new filler cap for the engine fuel tank was fitted. Finally John Davies came down to carry out a survey. The radio had been changed but being the same make and an updated model the installation had to be signed off. This was duly done and a clear bill of health was declared. We then loaded it all up and a mid afternoon celebration ensued.

Bobby is nothing if not focused. Within a trice he had mastered patting his head, rubbing his stomach and juggling six balls in one hand and learnt to fly the thing and checked out with Crispin Williams. Since then it has been flying whenever the fickle conditions required permit. Brilliant.

Things that make us smile – a lot
Now’n again people just drop by to say ‘ello and have a cuppa and chat. Great thing is its not usually about balloons or getting them fixed. They were just passing like. When Marky Clark comes up to get his balloon inspected talk always turns to things mechanical and usually ends up about our recent motorcycle stuff. Last time he just happened to mention he’d bought a Ural, we were all ears. These were the most amazing Russian creations. No two bikes were the same. They came with sidecars that you could mount a rocket launcher on, had a driven sidecar wheel and reverse gear. As they were Russian engineering they were not renowned for reliability but having said that, if they did stop you could get them going again with an adjustable spanner, hammer and parts from a tractor. A mate of mine from days gone by purchased one to replace his Honda 50 that took him round the UK (literally). It wasn’t quick, barely making the high 50s but it had a certain class. When stopped at traffic lights the exhaust smoke (mainly burning oil) would float vertically out of the pipes. It was wonderful. Even today every time I see one they just make me smile. Although his is in really very exceptionally good condition Mark spent quite a bit of time getting bits and bobs sorted including making it go in a straight line (a common fault). “It would just change direction as you went along,” he said with a broad grin. “It was stunning!” We of course all burst out laughing. Eventually he discovered that when the sidecar was set up not only wasn’t it fitted correctly but the toe-in was dramatically toe-out and to try and counter that it had been given a shovel full of negative camber. Brilliant we said in unison, now crying with laughter. Bravely he took it to 65, just once. “Come on John hop in mate.” Several seconds later he was a fully converted Ural man. These days if he is feeling a bit down he just remembers Marky’s Ural outfit and grins like a Cheshire cat. Thing is I am seriously thinking about getting one to help farmer Jay move big bales. Here’s to you Mark.

Pete’s ‘Never will be really finally’
Finally a huge thank you to everyone that came to Pete’s funeral or gave donations to the Brain Cancer Appeal. With all the collections, cake sale and other local donations he raised nearly £5000.00. Truly amazing and thankyou. He’d elected to donate his body tissue and his eyes, all he was allowed to because of his treatment. Happily someone somewhere is now benefitting. The funeral was as good as such a thing can be. We had planned to use his Toyota Surf but it had been resting for a few years so wouldn’t play and anyway the pickup had a full tank so perfect for Pete to borrow. As planned we all gathered at The Clocktower and headed for the Wendover Church as the clock struck one. Pete’s mate Jov who is suffering the same condition, was escorted to the church by Big Mark and our brilliant lady Vicar of Wendover. Farmer Jay followed in the pickup with Pete in a beautiful Somerset Willow coffin and the rest of us followed behind. It was truly amazing. A huge gathering formed at the Clock Tower. The George emptied out, the Red Lion too, as we passed. The Swan contingent all fell in and as we reached the top of the High Street and turned down the London Road the King & Queen joined in. The tail end was still at bottom of the High Street. By the time we reached the Church we’d made the traffic news and blocked the A413. We then discovered the church was already full. It was truly very, very moving. The bouncers from the undertakers cleared a route through the nave and Tom, Ash, Spencer, Gavin, Mary and Alice gently carried him in to Steve Miller Bands’ The Joker. The service was great, lots of colour, lots of happiness and sadness. Mary and Alice read excerpts from Peter Pan and after the Obit the huge congregation, more standing than sitting, gave an even huger cheer that loosened the lead on the roof and a gargoyle’s ear fell off. His mate from childhood Tom Ware wrote and read a brilliant poem, probably quite late at night. We listened to James Taylor, You’ve got a Friend, and had a good think about things. Our lovely Vicar from Wendover then closed the service and Pete left the church to another favourite of his, Sultans of Swing. Perfect. The bar set up by the font by Dayla Tim, quickly taken over and run by his kids, was declared open. Barrels of Tring Brewery Ridgeway and a barrel or two of Eurofizz, along with wine for the posh people was soon flowing. One of the aisles was transformed into a pile of pork pies and more pork pies. Yup, beer in the church. Outside the smokers’ gazebo was put to good use even by the Vicar. Everyone wandered about chatting, laughing and recounting stories. It was a wonderful, happy, sad occasion made so special by the huge turnout estimated to be well the other side of 350. Eventually the beer ran out and we moved off down the Heron Path to the pubs of Wendover intent on drinking them dry. Wendover and all those that came from far and wide did him proud. Thankyou all so very much. Those that were there, those that sent cards or just called up and those that just wanted to remember him quietly. We truly cannot Thank You all enough. We are so grateful. He was pretty special to so many people.

His legacy is a simple one. He would want you to be kind to everybody, take time to listen and give a genuine smile to all that need it. Make people happy. Laugh out loud. I’m sure you do already and it makes him happy.

The contents of this coffin is not Pete. Its just the remains of his broken discarded body, something tangible that we can to say goodbye to should we need such. We won’t ever say goodbye. He has touched all our souls.

He is here with us all, most likely up the church tower having a chuckle or perched on the lychgate grinning. Don’t leave your beer unattended.

You will catch his passing shadow out the corner of your eye, he will touch your shoulder and above all he will be looking out for you. Just give him a shout if you need a smile. He is everywhere.

Now ladies and gentlemen please give him a loud, really raucous happy joyous cheer. Give it your all…. Ready….Three, two one……Now.