Inflation Day – 24 April 2021.

Well, here we go again, exciting times, as we start the process of preparing for the next BBM&L Inflation Day – here is hoping we actually get one in 2021!
David Hopkins has kindly, and very much come to the rescue, by offering his land at Pidley for the BBM&L Inflation Day 2021 event! It will not be as we have known it for the last ten years when located at Lakeside Golf Centre, with its perfect driving range area – but we must move on! However, I am thrilled that it will be at Pidley again but located on David’s land at the back of his house, on one of the original golf courses!
The area is away from the public road, has a hard track to the planned parking area with the inflation area on one of the old fairways – and tree-lined! If the wind is blowing in the ‘wrong’ direction, there is an additional location, within the area, offering alternative shelter!
Early days, but with the venue selected it needs a date, so put the 24th April 2021 into your dairies at the first opportunity! There are a number of logistical arrangements for us to ‘put together’ with additional costs to take into account (not from David I might add), but hopefully they will be comparatively straightforward compared to the problems our worst enemy Covid has thrown at us in recent months! The Covid ‘rules of the day’ will have to be complied with however, and assuming we have ‘come out the other side’ of the rules we currently have, and the restrictions by April have been relaxed somewhat, all will be well!
Watch this space for further announcements!
We were exceedingly disappointed having to cancel this year’s BBM&L 40th Anniversary event, but the plan will be to make the 2021 occasion exceptional to make up for it! See you there!

Renee Thornton, 1931-2020

Vice President of the British Balloon Museum & Library.

     We were saddened to hear that Renee had died in her sleep. She was a friend, a balloonist and an artist, and her art group meant a lot to her in the last few years.

    David Barker had known Renee longer than most of us and he kindly wrote the following. 

      ‘After crewing for gas balloons for several years Renee (born 15 July 1931) became a founder member of the Southern Balloon Group, latterly with myself as the only other continuing member.  The group bought Carousel in 1972 and then, after Renee had gained her licence, Carousel 2 in 1976, then Renee bought her own balloon Diadem in 1980.  

    We went to Carate Brianza in 1975 to train Piero Porati,  where Renee made a hit with the local press who called her La Prima Donna Montgolfiera.  


    I’ll never forget the sight of Renee marching down the road when she landed there after a solo flight, followed by some half a dozen Italians carrying the basket then even more of them carrying the envelope.  

   I made many flights with Renee, both for her training then the World Championships in 1977 where we were placed 8th, the highest placed UK team.  Together we twice won the Irish Championships, we flew in Spain in 1978, in Morocco, Belgium and France, and took part in the first Château d’Oex meeting in 1979 and the first flight over London for 40 years, in 1978. 

   Renee worked in the personnel department of The John Lewis Partnership up to her retirement latterly in Bristol, where she lived. She was a founder member and later vice president of the BBM&L.’

David Barker 

     Very sad news to receive Jenni, she was a big supporter of the Museum in times gone by and I have her down as Founder Member number 2, she was the first treasurer (1980 to 1984) and retired from the Council in 2009 when we appointed her as a VP! A sad loss to the ballooning world!

Tim Turner, BBM&L Secretary


We’re back again.

We recently learned that our website became unavailable and showed an error page.

Thank you to those of you who took the trouble to let us know.

All is now well and you should find everything available at the click of a button.

If you have any problems, please let us know and we will be happy to help.

The *virtual* Inflation Day 2020

The balloons pictured below all registered to attend the Inflation Day and we take our hats off to all the pilots and crews who had the date firmly written in their diaries.
It is seldom we get the chance to see these historic balloons and we send our thanks to Sandy Mitchell and Tim Turner for the photographs.

We had ten Hoppers registered up to the date of cancellation, otherwise you may be sure we would have seen many more on the day.

We were looking forward to celebrating 40 Years of the Museum Line-Up – balloons registered in the Museum’s birth year 1979, mostly Museum balloons plus one or two others …

The Inflation Day is traditionally a good day to raise funds for the Museum so we are thinking of ways of boosting the kitty whilst still having fun.
And of course, there is always the DONATION PAGE 🙂

Inflation Day 2020, 25th April

Inflation Day 2020 – CANCELLED.



It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce the cancellation of Inflation Day 2020.

The situation with Corona virus changes daily and it with everyone’s safety in mind that we have had to make this decision.

As things stand, we do not expect to be able to find another date in 2020 so we shall work on a date and venue for 2021.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.




Tim Turner

BBM&L Secretary & Inflation Day Co-Ordinator

21st November is Montgolfier Day

All over the world, 21st November is the day balloonists celebrate the anniversary of the first free flight with human beings.

In 1783 in Paris, France, the famous Montgolfier balloon took off from the garden of the Château de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne in the presence of the King. The balloon was designed and built by Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that two condemned criminals would be the first passengers, and if they survived they would be pardoned. But Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier, (a chemistry and physics teacher) along with the Marquis François Laurent d’Arlandes (a French military officer), successfully persuaded the King to let them go up instead.

The fifty feet high, highly decorated envelope had a smoky fire slung under the neck of the balloon suspended in an iron basket. It was controllable and supposed to be constantly replenished by the balloonists who were in the balcony around the neck of the balloon. But Marquis François Laurent d’Arlandes was absolutely terrified for the whole flight, and often did not hear Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier yelling at him from the other side of the balloon to put more straw on the fire.

In 25 minutes the two men travelled just over five miles. Enough fuel (hay or straw) remained on board at the end of the flight to have allowed the balloon to fly four to five times as far, but burning embers from the fire threatened to engulf the balloon and the men decided to land as soon as they were over open countryside. The pioneering work of the Montgolfier brothers in developing the hot air balloon was recognised by this type of balloon being named Montgolfière after them.

BBM&L 2019 AGM and Annual Luncheon

The 38th Annual General Meeting will take place on Sunday 27th October at the Donnington Grove Hotel, Newbury, Berkshire. . This will take place at 11am.

The agenda can be found here Agenda AGM 2019

The Annual Luncheon follows at 12.30 and we are so lucky that Kevin Meehan has agreed to be our speaker. To book your place just go to the shop on this page and fill in your details.

The venue is beautiful, the menu is wonderful, and the speaker is fantastic. What is there not to love?

If you really cannot make it to the lunch, and we do hope you can, you can make a donation PayPal Donation Button and help save the Past for the Future.


Norman Pritchard Inducted into the Hall of Fame

NORMAN PRITCHARD 2019 CIA HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE (Deceased) Volunteer – ‘A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task’.

Norman Pritchard was such a person. From the early 1970’s until he left his earthly life in October 2004 at the age of 85, Norman was active in all aspects of ballooning.

From the first British National Championship at Castle Howard to the setting up of the British Balloon Museum and Library, the early days of the Icicle Balloon Meet and the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Norman was there.

He was an integral part of the group who formed the Rocinante Balloon Group, with their first balloon a Thunder with a flexi-rigid burner frame, Velcro rips requiring a “Cremation Charlie” during inflation.

1979 the British Balloon Museum and Library came into being. Norman, an ardent archivist was in at the start. He served nearly 20 years as the Secretary before becoming Vice Chairman in 1998.

He was instrumental together with John Baker, publishing ‘Balloons and Ballooning’ in 1986. He later he published 3 booklets under his own name – ‘British Records’ and ‘World Records’ in 1993 followed by the ‘BBAC Competitions Handbook’ in 1994.

Friday October 4, 2019 this year’s acknowledged CIA Hall of Fame inductees Paolo Bonanno and Norman Pritchard (deceased) will be honoured at Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, next to Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The numerous fun adventures he shared with his ballooning family are still talked about today.


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