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 ~ 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-DIPZ ~ Dropping In To The Berkshire Show

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

If you’ve read this blog you’ll be fully aware that my Father organises the hot air balloon display every year for The Royal County Of Berkshire Show. As a result, on the 3rd weekend of September, I have regularly flown out of the showground, but I have never flown into the Showground.

The weather forecast for the 2013 Show, from a ballooning point of view, wasn’t great. It’s the old weather forecasting delight of “sunshine and showers”, which usually means it’ll be a bit windy to fly let alone, the issues surrounding ballooning and rain. Especially unpredictable “showers”. So when the forecast for the night before was showing signs of being flyable, it seemed daft not to take it.
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Flight Report: G-CDYL ~ The Perfect Morning To Learn To Fly

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton

After the perfect conditions of last nights flight and with the weather still providing near perfect flying conditions, it seemed foolish not to make the most of it and go for another flight. With the wind having backed overnight from the Westerly winds that gave us a track down the M4 from Hungerford, to a Southerly wind this morning, but still perfectly acceptable, we once again set off to Folly Dog Leg near Hungerford.

This time, however, rather than just going for a pleasure flight, we were flying with a purpose. Jack Kennedy, whose father has been ballooning and crewing with us for years, and in fact, has essentially grown up ballooning with us, is now at an age whereby he’s old enough to gain his own licence and with oodles of enthusiasm, is speeding through his training. Read more

Flight Report: G-CDYL ~ Sharing The Skies With Friends

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton

One of the biggest attractions for a lot of people towards hot air ballooning is the social side that accompanies it. Whether that’s with the passengers you share a flight with, being in the sky alongside other balloons, or simply the post-flight drink in the P.U.B. after. While I adore cloudhopper flying, there are times when it’s just nice to sit back, relax and partake in a flight with friends, rather than on your own.

Tonight was exactly one of those nights. With glorious sunshine, light winds and a balloon it almost appeared to be begging to take to the skies: my father, myself and good friend, Clive Brash set up for a flight from Folly Dog Leg in Hungerford. On arrival, not unexpectedly, we found a launch site full of other balloons and balloonists all having had the same idea.
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Flight Report: G-DIPZ ~ Double Dipping

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

I think it’s fair to say that for a long, long time this day looked like it may never happen. The previous summer I had purchased a small, 17,000 cubic foot cloudhopper from Belgium – OO-BRV – which at the time, in a non-flyable state, not because of there was anything technically wrong with the balloon, but simply because, the paperwork wasn’t in order.

And after all, how much trouble can paperwork cause!? It turns out rather a lot!

The reason I wanted this balloon, the reason I was prepared to undertake this paperwork challenge was that this balloon holds a secret. It wasn’t always OO-BRV; it started its life as G-DIPZ, the backup balloon to G-DIPI – or the old Choc Dips special shape balloon I already owned.
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Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ A Hop, Skip And Jump Over Abingdon

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

While it is possible to fly throughout the year – the reason though that you’ll see more balloons during the summer “months” is simply that the weather is more settled and predictable. That doesn’t mean, however, that during the winter months it isn’t possible to get into the air – opportunities are just much more limited.

However, winter flying can be just as good, if not better than it’s more regular summer sibling. With the lack of thermal heating and associated gusting winds it is possible to fly at any time throughout the day – not just first thing in the morning or last thing at night – meaning ballooning becomes almost sociable! Read more

Flight Reports: G-DIPI ~ Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2012

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

Every August, Ashton Court in Bristol plays host to the UK’s largest free outdoor event (and the largest annual balloon meet in Europe) – the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. This year, we were asked whether we’d like to bring the Choc Dips special shape balloon to the Fiesta – a balloon not seen at the Fiesta for 22 years having last flown there in 1990! Of course, we said yes!

Mass Launches take place in the morning and evening on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday but to “open” the Fiesta in style they organise a Special Shapes Rodeo on the Thursday evening. Unfortunately, as you’ll have no doubt read in previous blog posts about my time piloting the Churchill Dog special shape – we’ve been unable to free fly from the Shapes Rodeo for a number of years – however, things were a little different in 2012…
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