Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 31st July 2016

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

I try not to promise people balloon flights. It’s not because I’m antisocial and don’t wish to fly them but simply because I don’t want to let anybody down. I only fly a dozen or so times a year privately, and whilst I’m happy, and really enjoy, sharing the experience with friends I just hate the knowledge that a promise now may take months, or even years, to come to fruition. Friendships can be solely tested when your word appears to be nothing but empty.

So, I was acutely aware that it was now getting well over 18 months since a very long-standing friend had swapped me a flight in his plane for a flight in my balloon. And while he was being completely understanding as to the reasons why I hadn’t kept my side of the bargain, the weight of knowing he’d been waiting that long was starting to sit far too heavily on my shoulders. Read more

Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 24th July 2016

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

A period of ill health, the issues that delayed Bumble from taking to the skies for over a year and qualifying as a cricket umpire reigniting his passion for leather on willow, has seen my father hardly fly over the last couple of years. He’s been happily coming out to crew for me when I’ve been flying cloudhoppers but getting into the air himself – whether as pilot or passenger – has been severely limited. In fact, until he’d flown with me the previous day, it had been over two-and-a-half years since he’d last been in the sky!

It was obvious the previous morning had unlocked all the memories and emotions that draw him to flying. As with withdrawal from anything, once the initial pangs and cravings pass, the natural pull becomes so dulled that eventually the original source is forgotten; and I think that had happened with my Father. Life had moved on, the gap caused by a lack of flying naturally filled with other things. But just like addiction, all it takes is that first sip, that first inhale, and the flood gates reopen. Flying had flooded through him again the previous morning and when I offered him the chance to come flying again he didn’t need to be asked twice! Read more

Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 23rd July 2016

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

While many people have many theories, and the question as to exactly why will never be truly be answered, the undeniable fact is that hot air ballooning is in decline. Increased cost, bureaucracy and changes in agricultural practices have all certainly played a part but the simple, most obvious result, of whatever driving factor is behind it, is that you just don’t see many balloons in the sky anymore.

Whether morning or evening, when it’s perfectly flyable you can turn up to a launch site and, instead of seeing half a dozen or more fellow aviators rigging their craft, preparing to fly, be met by empty solitude. Too often a wonderful flying slot only attracts one or two others out to play. So, imagine my surprise, when I arrived at The Dog House at Frilford Heath to find not one, two or even three other balloons but 6 getting ready to fly. Read more

Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 4th June 2016

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

Having returned Woody Woodward to the ground on our previous flight with slightly more than a gentle bump it seemed only fair to apologise to him with another flight. This time, however, not only was the chocolate box appearance of cloudless skies and a warming summer sun replaced by a cold, grey, almost depressive monotony, but Woody declared he wanted to land the balloon himself!

Previously, I’d explained how local knowledge can play a vital role in decision making when flying and tonight proved how, sometimes, all the local knowledge in the world can count for nothing. If the winds aren’t there, there is nothing you can do. Read more

Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 26th May 2016

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

As mentioned in the report of my previous flight, Woody Woodward used to fly the Variety Club hot air balloon. Sadly, when it reached the end of it’s flying life, Woody wasn’t in a position to purchase another balloon leaving him grounded. UK law dictates that to act as a pilot in command you are required to complete annual currency – currently 5 flights in 13 months for a private pilot – and without a balloon to fly, Woody risks missing this requirement and lapsing his licence. The result is that I have always tried to ensure that he can get into the sky from time to time in my balloon to make sure this doesn’t happen.

This meant that less than three weeks since Bumble had taken off on its maiden voyage, and for the third time in four flights, I was once again airborne with Woody. Unlike our previous flight, however, where I’d taken off and Woody hand landed, this time Woody was responsible for parting us from the ground and I’d be required to safely reattach us later! Read more

Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 15th May 2016

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

I’m sure I should open this with some witty statement about how flying slots are like buses – joking how you wait for one and 3 come along at once – but really, I think it’s more a case that however fast the clouds may scud across the sky on occasions, the weather is fundamentally a slow-moving thing.

I also don’t know why I constantly try to describe the way you can steer a balloon by using the adage “right with height”. Attempting to explain how the winds apparently veer clockwise with altitude in the northern hemisphere, because that never seems to hold true anymore either! Read more

Flight Report: G-CJXD ~ 14th May 2016

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

With the nightmare, and stupidity, of something as basic as paperwork having kept me from sharing the sky with friends for so long it was obvious, that as Bumble was now good to go, I had been well and truly bitten by the flying bug again. Like an animal let off the leash I just wanted to run and run, excitement over spilling anticipation, the chance to go flying not coming around quickly enough. Watching the weather, however, it became clear that I wouldn’t have to wait long.

Only eight days after it’s maiden flight and I was back on a launch site, rigging the balloon and briefing passengers. Having had to wait so long to get the balloon into the sky I’d built up a long list of promises ‘…of course you can have a flight when the balloons finally flying…’ and now it was time to deliver. Read more

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait: G-CJXD Maiden Flight Report

Posted on by 5WC in Bumble, Hot Air Ballooning

There is always something about the maiden flight of a brand-new balloon that gets the tingle of butterflies prickling inside. However, much the manufacturers have honed the art of construction, however tested, checked and approved it may be, you cannot help but remember that you are about to take to the skies in a brand-new craft for the first time in its life.

I have been privileged to feel those internal flutterings more than I probably should. I flew Tutti Frutti, Lambert Smith Hampton 3 and G-CEGG on their maiden flights and shared the sky as my father christened Rainbow Blue. But G-CJXD looked like it’d never even get to the launch site! Read more

Book Review: When the Shooting Stops The Cutting Begins by Ralph Rosenblum

Posted on by 5WC in Book
When The Shooting Stops The Cutting Begins by Ralph Rosenblum - Header

I think it’s fair to say I like a movie or two, the film category of this blog alone will attest to that, and I firmly believe in misquoting Frank Kappa. “Too many films, not enough time”. But I am just passionate about what goes on behind the camera, in the shadow of the shot as it were. I find the individual pieces that go together to make a movie just as fascinating and engrossing as any on screen action. I have books detailing costume design and storyboard mock-ups, film posters on my walls, and while I don’t do it enough, I adore editing raw footage (mainly of balloons) searching for that tone and emotion that is hidden within each scene.

I also listen to podcasts. I believe that a love of the moving image goes hand in hand with a love of the spoken word. The image is accented by the word and for me, simply listening to people speak can be as enlightening and enjoyable as any film. Obviously, combining the two is even better and so, one of my favourites, is the BBC flagship film show – Wittertainment (or Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review to give it its proper title). Read more

My Top 5 Movies of 2015 – A review of the Year, Part 2

Posted on by 5WC in Film, Opinion
Top 5 Movies Of 2015

So, following on from my worst 5 movies of 2015 and concluding my movie review of 2015, here are my top 5 films.

I always believe that the only real way to pick the top movies you’ve seen in a year is to round them all up and go with your gut feeling, that instant recall when you see their title. I don’t try to over think it, read back over reviews, pondering my thoughts and minutely comparing details. It means that my list may be missing films of better technical quality, narrative, or performance, but that’s not what makes the best films of the year for me. I want those films that by simply mentioning there names have put me back there, feeling that tickle of excitement and passion that I did when I saw them. Read more