Flight Report: G-ISOB ~ 17th July 2017

Posted on by 5WC in Beat, Hot Air Ballooning

It’s been about 6 weeks since Beat told me they were changing their logo, that the balloon I’d been so proud, so excited, to finally be able to fly, that was the basis for a project that would give me the life I craved, is nothing now but an embarrassing failure. That all those who warned me about spending my own money on a balloon branded for someone else had been proved right.

I like flying cloudhoppers. I find them a silencing tonic to the madness of my mind. Flying alone, I can, for want of a better expression, talk to myself and change the narrative. I’m isolated in the air, in my own bubble, for an hour or so and I can leave behind whatever is plaguing me on the ground and exist for those fleeting minutes, in a world beyond reach. With everything that had gone on with Beat, their logo change, and the financial and emotional failure of the balloon project before it had even really started, I needed some time out, but that meant flying Beat! Read more

Streatley Nightglow 2015

Posted on by 5WC in Choc Dips, Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton
Streatley Nightglow 2015 - Header

For over 20 years on the second Monday in August, or the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday depending on the weather, hot air balloons have gathered on Streatley Recreation Ground and put on a tethered display. Initially this was started purely as a thank you to the local residents for allowing balloons to fly from the site, but slowly, it has grown into a well known local event, drawing visitors from across the region and with the aid of some local beer and barbecued meat, raised much needed funds to help purchase, maintain and develop the Recreation Ground into a much enjoyed and used facility.

This year’s glow was all about the forecast. Originally slated for the Monday, the “Met Men” were saying it’d be too windy, that the trees would thrash around and the conditions just too unsafe for tethering. And they were right, however, give it a few hours and you’d get the polar opposite. Push it back one day and it’d be slightly overcast but light winds. In fact, it’d be virtually stationary. So, without a moment’s thought the glow moved. Tuesday arrived just as predicted with a still greyness that justified the decision and preparations were made. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ 31st July 2015 AM

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

I should have been in France, flying with the team from Lindstrand Technologies at the Lorraine Mondial Air Ballon event. Or Metz as it’s known to the British ballooning community. Sadly though, a misbehaving fuel cylinder and my own mental health meant that my time in France was cut down to a measly 36 hours.

It had been a trying week since I arrived back in the UK, watching pictures of record breaking mass ascents, knowing that I should be there, that it should have been 434 balloons not 433 that took to the sky. Plans were even imagined of driving back out for the final 4 days. But however much pain I was in mentally, I needed to protect myself and be fair on those around me, and so I decided that rather that charge back out there and back into the issues I’d previously failed to face, I would stay at home and with the weather becoming flyable, have my own “Mini Metz”. 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: 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-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

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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Coming To A Sky Near You, For The First Time Since 1995!

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

One aspect of commercial hot air ballooning is sponsorship, where companies’ will buy a hot air balloon with the envelope artworked to promote a specific brand or product. Balloons provide a perfect and proven advertising medium and companies have used this (and continue to do so) for over 25 years to gain low-cost high-quality exposure. Unfortunately, there are cases where a company will buy a balloon and then a year or two later, completely unrelated to the balloon, close a brand down resulting in an almost new balloon that is perfectly flyable being put into storage, from which, they very rarely reappearing or worse still, destroyed.

Virgin Cola is a prime example of this. In 1995 Richard Branson started his first attempt to fly a hot air balloon non-stop around the world, something which, at that point had never been achieved. Virgin Cola had been launched the previous year and to push the brand in an attempt to win a market share from rivals Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Virgin made the decision to brand the large fuel cylinders as Virgin Cola Cans and purchased a small 21,000 cubic foot cloudhopper, shaped to look like the planned ’round the world balloon. Read more

Growing Old Gracefully

Posted on by 5WC in Hot Air Ballooning

It seemed appropriate, that on the day Ordnance Survey’s flying unit moved to a new home at East Midlands Airport, that their old cloudhopper hot air balloon be inflated, to mark the occasion!

In fact, while we had read the BBC article earlier in day, the inflation wasn’t specifically done to mark the event. Ordnance Survey ran 2 hot air balloons commercially during the late 1990s to promote the brand and to be able to offer corporate hospitality flights to clients, staff, and the press. They finished using the balloons when they were no longer flyable and as a result, they came into our care and are now stored in our barn. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ February Fun In The Sun Over Berkshire And Oxfordshire

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

February 2012 will be remembered as the month that couldn’t make up its mind. Two weeks ago and there was snow on the ground, gritting lorries working over-time and temperatures plummeting a long long way below zero.

Fast forward, and we were looking at an unseasonal heat wave. A large area of high pressure dominated the weather charts pushing temperatures in the high teens, two or three times the season average, and bringing settled, sunny days and clear overnight skies. The perfect ballooning weather. Read more