Well, that’s another Inflation Day ‘put to bed’ for the next couple of years, and we got away with it – just!
The weather prediction during the preceding week tried hard to upset the event with a fluctuating forecast but eventually balloo
ning won. Three inflation teams took to the task straight after briefing, with the early inflations happening in light rain but at this point we realised we ‘had an event’!
Ultimately 26 balloons were inflated (plus several models in the sports hall). It is one of the lowest number of inflations taking place at an Inflation since I have taken on the running of the event (nine events over eighteen years), but with the selection of balloons from the Museum being carefully chosen, hopefully producing quality rather than quantity by inflating some very old balloons.
Unfortunately, the planned line-ups of the British Gas shapes, and three London Pride’s that were available, didn’t take place due to the weather – one for next time perhaps! Without the help of partners and families the event would be hard work for me, but as organiser I appreciate the effort put into the preparation and help on the day to make my life so much easier – next time could be more of a challenge with a possible new venue!
BBM&L President, Robin Batchelor hosted Jean Ray and Heather Philp during the day, as they had been invited to attend with their late husband Joe’s balloon, ‘Dream Machine’ (G-BADU), a very rare balloon for the gathered enthusiasts, a greatly appreciated addition to the day.
An item no longer used in modern ballooning, a ‘crash helmet’, and this example, very much a piece of ballooning history, was donated to the Museum by Jean Ray with many historic signatures on it. Bringing back memories no doubt, of Jean’s ballooning days with Joe. A helmet was a very important piece of ballooning equipment in the early days (as many Friends of the Museum will remember) because, due to there being no flexi-rigid supports for the burner frame, protection to the head was very much a necessity during landing!
In recognition of the five Inflation events (the first in 2010) that have taken place at Lakeside Lodge, the BBM&L presented David Hopkins with a port decanter set (and a bottle of port to fill it) with an appropriate inscription on the base to mark the occasion. The Museum’s accountant Angela Lickorish had baked a splendid cake depicting David’s golf ball balloon on the icing! The Museum appreciates the support David has given us over the years, sadly he is selling the estate so a new venue for Inflation Day’s will be sought!
Prizes were awarded to the following:
Oldest balloon inflated:
‘London Pride II’ (G-AZXB) registered on the 20th June 1972 receiving the prize, the balloon being loaned to the Museum for the day by Bob Mitchener.
Crews Dedication by inflating 26 Balloons: It must be said a fantastic effort from the three crews who did the 26 inflations between them. This is just one team for the G-BBCB inflation. Congratulations to lead pilots Neil Ivison, Martin Mitchell and Gary Davis and their crews, as without their enthusiasm it would have been a lost cause that’s for certain – I’m sure the beer packs were welcomed by the crews – most likely consumed before leaving the field!
Furthest Balloon travelled in UK:
‘Dream Machine’ (G-BADU) transported to the event by Heather Philp from Cornwall – what a rare b
alloon to have had at the event!
LAASi Prize for the enthusiasts most wanted balloon:
‘Cee-Bee’ (G-BBCB) inflated by Neil Ivison on behalf of the Museum.
Best Special Shape:
Brought by Eddy Pattyn all the way from Sint-Niklaas, Belgium was OO-BUE the Orangina Bottle (Eddy was presented with an English beer selection provided by Belvoir Brewery). Eddy supporting Inflation Day’s yet again with a noteworthy balloon!
Services to Ballooning during Inflation Day:
A special prize for a very confident young man who was taking part, was presented to 3-year-old Alex for assisting ‘Team Northampton’ with inflations – he was totally involved with the action, not to mention hard working.
As recognition for his participation Alex was presented with a book, from JB Books stand, depicting pictures of special shapes, (couldn’t have had too much reading because of his age) plus an Inflation Day pin! A future balloonist in the making that’s for sure!
Congratulations to them all, for supporting the event so ably, and for all those who travelled many miles at the risk of nothing happening, but they had their rewards! Thank you also to LAASi for supporting the event once again, greatly appreciated.
Event Co-Ordinator & BBM&L Secretary