Category: Hot Air Ballooning

A Ballooning MOT

Posted on by 5WC in Aviation, Hot Air Ballooning

Not many people seem to realise that a hot air balloon is a registered aircraft, exactly the same as the Boeing 747 jetting you off on your summer holiday or the whirlybird helicopters used by the country’s air ambulance services. Being a registered aircraft means that in the same way your car required an annual inspection to prove roadworthiness, a hot air balloon is required to pass an annual airworthiness inspection.

This inspection is carried out by CAA recognised Inspectors who undergo training with all the major manufacturers and then work under the umbrella of an approved maintenance organisation. And, as a result of this longwinded trail of countenance, some may argue that this level of bureaucracy oppresses an otherwise basic and simple form of aviation transport, and while suitable to our heavier than air cousins, for an elementary system of fabric and wicker it is more than unnecessary, but whether you agree or not, you just have to look at the safety record of ballooning to see that the system does work. Read more

What No Wicker? Another Tekno Flight! Flight Report

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning
Ultramagic Tekno Basket Flight - Flight Track

Having previously been treated to a stunning evenings flying with the guys from Ultramagic UK and their lightweight Tekno 70 demonstrator, I jumped at the chance for another flight when Richard Penney asked if I fancied taking the Tekno basket for a spin this time.

Normally a hot air balloon basket is made of wicker, in fact you will often hear bemused onlookers proclaiming that hot air ballooning is essentially taking to the skies in an over sized laundry basket, but that isn’t an argument you can throw at the Tekno basket, because there isn’t any laundry, or wicker anywhere in sight. Read more

Flight Report: G-BSBM : Ballooning Over Berkshire

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

With opportunities to take to the skies beginning to draw to a close as a Summer transfers to Autumn, the weather takes a turn and the farming community push on with the birth of next year’s crops reducing landing sites by the day, any opportunity to take to the skies is one to try and grab. And having had such a good evening flying sociably with Richard Penney in the Ultramagic Demonstrator, it seemed only right to take to the skies again with a friend and share in the joy and excitement this sport has to offer.

Monday saw a near perfect flying slow appear in the afternoon and with my own options limited due to lack of crew, vehicles and even balloons, local pilot Ken Lowry very kindly offered me the chance to fly with him in his balloon, an opportunity I was not going to turn down.

G-BSBM Flight - Header

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Flight Report: An Evening With An Ultralight Ultramagic

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning
Tekno 70 - Header

Over the past year or so, an ever increasing voice of change has been gathering force and getting louder and louder within the ballooning world. People are suddenly starting to realise that bigger is not always better and that when it boils down to it, for a type of aviation with essentially is about carrying a set maximum weight into the air, wasting valuable weight on unnecessary luxuries, even to the point of long life fabric, is a foolish thing to do.

It was Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars, who famously based everything on the idea of “simplify and add lightness” and it’s a philosophy I fully support and practice. Whether it was once my choice of car, or ongoing love with the lightest and smallest balloons you can buy, I firmly believe that you just have more fun when things are small, simple and weigh next to nothing. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ Flying High To Harwell

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning
G-CEGG - 7th August 2014 PM - Track

I’m afraid that there isn’t any GoPro video footage this time. While they may say that a bad workman blames his tools, this time around I am fully prepared to take the blame and say that it does help if you remember to press the record button before you take off!

This was actually the 2nd time that day I’d turned up to The Dog House wanting to fly. The forecast had suggested that it would be flyable both in the morning and evening, and with crew around morning and evening as well, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Originally the plan had been to fly my cloudhopper in the morning and then take Tutti Frutti, our Lindstrand 56 for a flight in the evening, but sadly, a lack of extra help and some heat/weight issues ruled out Tutti taking to the skies again. And so it became a day of two hopper flights. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ Hopping Over The Harvest

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

In my report of my last flight, when I flew from The Dog House to Marcham I said that while no two flights are ever the same, it is interesting how flights can be repetitive. Even though the scenery, length or atmosphere may change, the starting and ending points remain the same. And once again, I have repeated the experience – taking off and landing in the same place as I did last September!

Being a mature student, married to the spare time created by my fight against personal battles as I walk the road to recovery, I am in the dare I say it, enviable position of having the free time to grab a Monday morning flight if the weather is right, even though part of me wishes I didn’t. And with the harvest in full swing there seems no better phrase to say than I simply made hay while they sun shined and took to the skies. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ Marching To Marcham

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

They say that one of the things that attracts people to hot air ballooning is the fact it is an unplanned adventure. Taking to the skies in a craft which, in the eyes of most, is overly simplistic and obviously unsteerable. While it is hard to argue a big fabric bag, some wicker and a ‘Bunsen burner’ in grown up disguise isn’t simple in comparison to the heavier-than-air flying machines it shares the skies with, balloons can be steered by reading the winds. To a point. And you will often find people talking about their love for launching into the sky, into the unknown. Pilots’ will often to be heard musing about how “no two flights are ever the same”.

But that last statement isn’t 100% true. To a point. Flights may never be exactly the same: the wind will always be a different strength, the cloud base a foot or two lower, it may even be morning versus evening, but for all their subtle differences flights can on occasions pretend to be twins. To illustrate this point perfectly, we have my flight on Friday morning and one I made in April 2007. On Friday, I flew G-CEGG from The Dog House Inn, Frilford Heath landing an almost apologetic 8 minutes later in a lovely grass field 2km south at the village of Marcham.
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Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ Hopping Down Memory Lane

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

Having finally broken my slightly extended break from flying, I am for a number of reasons, essentially “making hay while the sunshine” and flying virtually every chance there is and definitely every chance I get. And so, with July announcing its arrival with a stunningly beautiful, and pleasing warm day that lead into an almost perfect evening for flying it seemed rude not to take to the skies of my home county for the third time in a week.

The flight, which turned out to be as glorious as the conditions gave expectation to, will forever now be etched into my memory for the personal trip down memory lane it also provided. Aside from a few hours watching cold food in the cinema, yesterday was already a very good day for me personally and this flight just became the cherry on top of everything that was right in the world. Bakewell had nothing on me yesterday!
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Flight Report: G-DIPZ ~ Here Comes The Rain Again

Posted on by 5WC in Choc Dips, Hot Air Ballooning

While it would be nice to fly under crystal blue skies on a warm sunny evening as the chocolate box countryside basks in the last throws of a beautiful days memory, but we can’t always get what we want, or to be precise, we’d hardly ever fly if it did. Occasionally you have to grab a chance to get a flight in between patches of weather and accept, that even though it’s going to be cold, grey and overcast, a flight is a flight and an opportunity to take to the skies once again.

Now sadly, there is no video this time, purely because I’m not used to these early mornings at the moment and my brain wasn’t in “videographer” mode, so attaching the camera rig to the balloon while it’s inflating and leaving it lying on wet grass, results not unsurprisingly, in a wet camera case and therefore, footage that isn’t sharp and clear but rather mottled and hazy. Oh well, lesson learnt.
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Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ I Believe I Can Fly

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

If you’ve spent any time reading the pages of this website or working your way through the mountain of blog posts you will have probably have come to a few conclusions. Firstly, I watch too many films; secondly, I have been suffering with a few trying issues over the last few years and thirdly, it’s been a while since I last flew a balloon.

Sadly the latter comments go hand in hand with one forcibly impacting on the other to a pooint that there have been times over the past few months where I’ve actually been wondering if I’d ever fly a balloon again and was contemplating selling, mothballing or even more drastically, destroying the balloons I owned. However, aviation and ballooning has been such an important part of my life that it isn’t something I could just turn my back on. I had to get back in the air and on the horse. And so with some good weather coming up and my father agreeing to crew today was the day. I was going to fly and nothing: panic attacks, anxiety or the weather would stop me. Read more