The 14th British Balloon Museum & Library Inflation Day. By Tim Turner

fts2-pidley-7_5_16Well, what a busy and exciting day it was for the 14th BBM&L Inflation Day, and the weather really was the cream topping to make it a perfect event! I cannot remember such an impeccable forecast during the preceding week and turning out as predicted on the day. The only complaint I received was ‘it’s too hot’ – I think I can live with that one, it was good for the bottled water companies, but contrary to popular belief I don’t have any control over the weather!

90 plus balloons of all shapes and sizes, including a good selection of special shapes, emerged from their slumber for the event, some not having seen the light of day for many, many years! It was a privilege to have hosted the many pilots and their hardworking crews along with over 450 visitors, who came along to enjoy a daylong festival of colour, mixed with holey, dusty and smelly balloons. Why do we do it? Because we love ballooning!

There were some fantastic cakes made by the Museum’s accountant Angela Lickorish – a lot of hard work there!

Much of the planning of the event takes place many months in advance, coming to a head 24 hours before the big day, with the moving of the selected 25 Museum onto the trailer. The advanced commitment contributing to one big team effort to bring a successful event on the day is greatly appreciated!

Pete Bish took a back seat this year, that must be a first, due to travelling to the Far East but he still managed to attend and do some inflations. It was left to me to do the introduction briefing and prize giving! As ever a big big thank you to David Hopkins for hosting us for the fourth time and he doesn’t seem to get fed up of our company!

As always the categories decided were ‘off the cuff’ on the day – this year was more difficult than normal as there was so much hard work going on with many, many inflations by a number of inflation teams. So, after much ‘head scratching’ the successful recipients were as follows:

The furthest travelled UK pilot with balloon: Roger Buckland, with Jackson (G-BEJA) from Aberdeenshire, which nicely matched the Union Jack flag design of the Museum’s Jumpin’ Jack (G-BAIR) – thanks to Mark Stelling for setting that one up!cakes

Oldest non BBM&L Balloon: Colin Butter, with Jester (G-AXJB) registered 9th July 1969 – that is old! I’ve been ‘nagging’ Colin to come to an Inflation event for a number of years, mainly to bring G-ICES, a Museum balloon along, and not only did he participate this year but went one better with some fantastic old balloons– thank you Colin. Bob Garnett (with G-BBGR) was a front runner for this prize until Colin made a late appearance – sorry Bob!

Collective most hard working team: The Museum Team, too many to name were selected, not just for a large number of inflations, but the co-ordinating of the likes of line-ups of the Chubb’s, Financial Times, the manufacturers ‘firsts’ to name but a few, and also for distributing balloons to others who were kindly offering inflations!

The LAASi Enthusiasts Most Wanted Balloon: David Seex’s team selected the Flying Fantasy, or Black Knight (G-BNMI) inflated by Richard Gahan who received the bottle prize, although Trev Reed and Austin Higginbottom were part of the successful team making the balloon available! A very welcome and wanted balloon to attend – thank you all. David also added a years’ membership to LAASi, as an additional prize – greatly appreciated David.

The ‘Good Egg’ pilot of the day: Steve Roake contacted the Museum prior to the event and said he would bring a ‘bottom end’ and inflate what-ever we wanted him to! From that we ‘threw’ many balloons at Steve during the day, and he was still ‘nagging’ me for more envelopes – Steve you are a star – thank you!

European Representation; As ever Christoff Deyaert encouraged a ‘gang of friends’ to attend with various balloons which were more than welcome! John WijGaard, from Joure also received a balloon photograph book – in Dutch (donated by JB Books) for the furthest travelled from the continent!

Part of the Museum’s policy, where appropriate, is to restore old balloons so they can continue to be seen and appreciated in years to come, so an enjoyable, but unknown, surprise to myself was the restoration, to inflatable condition, of the first Colting 56A SE-ZYN donated by Per Lindstrand a couple of years ago. The repairs were crafted by John Yarrow of Easy Balloons, Chris Dunkley’s chief balloon repairer! What a fantastic job John has done after the balloon’s accident in Sweden it was in rather a sorry state.g-chubb-collection-sm

Great work John and Chris, and I won’t forget the scheming that went on to keep it back from my knowledge and creating the surprise at Inflation. I think it was the only time I stood still for longer than a few minutes – because I was told to – well done all!

When John Crawford, my weather man, went on holiday to New Zealand in April, I asked him to ‘bottle’ some nice weather and bring it back for Inflation Day – I think we can say it certainly worked – keep the bottle JC and we will use it in two years’ time please!

Tim Turner

Event Co-Ordinator