Parachute from balloon

It was on this day 16 November 1959 that American balloonist Joe Kittinger made the first high altitude jump.  As part of the Execlsior 1 test programme they wanted to test the first ‘space suit’ and because there wasn’t a plane that could fly that high an enormous balloon took Kittinger to 76,400 feet from where he jumped.

He landed safely and the next year he jumped from 102,800ft – a record which stood until Felix Baumgartner jumped from 128,000ft in 2012 and his record was broken by Google executive Alan Eustace in 2014 by parachuting from 135,890ft. ( Story in WIRED magazine)

Joe Kittinger triumphed again in 1984 by becoming the first pilot to fly a balloon solo across the Atlantic.  He died aged 94.

Ballooning Bonanza Weekend.



The weekend of October 8/9 saw a veritable feast of ballooning in Britain starting with the launch of The Queen’s Cup Balloon Race in Taunton, Somerset. The BBAC were invited to lay on an event where pilots would compete for the Queen’s Cup,  the oldest and most prestigious sporting trophy in the UK, dating back to 1719 and entrusted to the Royal Aero Club by Her Majesty The Queen for which different disciplines of aviation would compete .

Nine balloons launched and Dom Bareford managed to fly for 8½ hours and landed at Manston Airfield on the Kent coast. Richard Penney in the event sponsor’s AUDI balloon landed further back in Kent after 9 hours. All flying with AVANTI’s bioLPG based on advanced bioethanol produced from waste.

Race teams then drove to various sites around UK to add to their total distance on sunday morning. Dom started from Preston and scored a winning total distance of 442 km.  We hope to bring you the story in the next TRAILROPE.  ( Video of launch)

To coincide with this race the BBAC invited all the regions to encourage pilots to fly in The Great British Balloon Launch and the response was wonderful with balloons flying from their home patches far and wide. (See map.)

Up in Shropshire there were 29 balloons attending the annual One Man Meet where sunday’s winds gave easy launches and ‘lively’ landings.

Across the pond the annual Gordon Bennett Balloon Race was hosted in Albuquerque where the French winners reached the east coast after flying 2661 km.  The British team of John Rose and Debbie Scholes landed after 1000 km with unreliable battery power.



Mike and Debbie Scholes land early on Atlantic flight.

Mike and Debbie Scholes land early on Atlantic flight.


British Transatlantic Balloon couple, Mike and Deborah Scholes, have now safely retrieved their balloon, G-Z0Z0 from its remote landing site in central south Newfoundland and it is its way back to the UK.


A combination of issues during the flight, sadly led to a forced early landing and the premature ending of the attempt for Deborah, to become the first lady balloonist to captain a balloon across the Atlantic and for Mike to be the first registered blind crew.


Deborah said: “With any big challenge like this there’s always a level of risk involved and that’s why it’s essential to put safety first and make sure that everything is working just as it should before you take that final step over the ocean. We are now carefully gathering all the information together concerning the technical issues that we encountered, not only for the benefit and safety of any further Atlantic crossing attempts we might make but also for the wider ballooning community.”


This is not quite how they had planned to return home, but they are safely back home in UK and probably already planning their next adventure.

Visit their website for more information, pictures and interviews.

The Most Exciting Flight to take place Across the Atlantic since 2007

Deborah Scholes and her registered blind husband Mike plan to take on the exciting and daring challenge of flying their specially built balloon non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. After taking off from Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada, they will fly over land for 200 miles before at least 2,527 miles over water.

The Challenge is being followed by Guinness World Records and if successful, Deborah will be the First Lady to captain a balloon across the Atlantic and Mike the first registered blind person to crew. The flight will also help to promote Blind Veterans UK, a charity that has helped Mike since his sight loss.

Deborah is probably the only British lady to hold a Rozier balloon pilot’s license as well as licenses for gas and hot air balloons. She enjoys challenging flights and has flown balloons across the English and Bristol Channels, over the Alps and up to an altitude of 23,180ft, an unofficial women’s British record.

Mike, before losing 85% of his sight in 2007, was a commercial balloon pilot and gained five British balloon duration records which still stand.

The balloon is the first in its class, R77GB. It can be flown as a gas balloon or for the Atlantic crossing, with the cone fitted, as a Rozier balloon. A Rozier balloon gains its lift from a helium cell in its top. Altitude is controlled by a small propane-fired burner that warms the air in the cone below the gas cell. A satellite tracker will enable everyone to watch the balloon’s progress .

Deborah and Mike will be supported by a top team of specialists, all renowned for their experience with international and global balloon flights.

Good Luck to both of them.

The Transatlantic Balloon Challenge is raising funds for and awareness of Blind Veterans UK.

Blind Veterans UK was founded in London in 1915 by publisher and newspaper owner Sir Arthur Pearson. Sir Arthur, who was blind himself, set up the charity to help the substantial numbers of veterans losing their sight during the First World War. Drawing on his own experience of sight loss, Sir Arthur’s aim was to help veterans “learn to be blind” by providing rehabilitation, training, and lifelong support.

Every day, Blind Veterans UK helps thousands of vision-impaired veterans who served our country – but they couldn’t do the vital work without you. There are many thousands of ex-Service men and women across the UK who still need our support. You can help them by donating today.

If you are able to donate, please visit the website If donating via the website, please check the box labelled “I would like to pay in money raised from a collection or fundraiser” and add our hashtag – #BalloonThePond to the event name. This allows us to see how much Debbie & Mike have raised. Alternatively, you can donate via our Just Giving page. Please see the link below for full details.…/transatlanticballoonchallenge

Thank You

Blind Veterans UK #balloonthepond #Refire #transatlantic #balloonchallenge


We are delighted to announce that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded the British Balloon Museum & Library a grant to redesign our website and create the UK’s first online balloon museum!

Watch this space for updates as we take our website to new levels.

Transatlantic Balloon Crossings

The first successful Transatlantic balloon flight was in 1978. There have been another 11 flights since then.

The list does not include transits of the Atlantic made by Round-the-World flights.

1978 Double Eagle II

Date                  12th – 17th August 1978

Pilots                    Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman

Balloon                 Helium – Yost GB-55. 160,000 cu ft (4,530 m3). s/n 108. N50DE

Launch                 Presque Isle, Maine, USA

Landing                Miserey, France

1984 Rosie O’Grady’s Balloon of Peace

Date           14th – 18th September 1984

Pilot                      Joe Kittinger

Balloon                 Helium. Yost GB-55. 106,000 cu ft (3,000 m³). AA-10. s/n 111.  Reg N53NY

Launch                 Caribou, Maine, USA

Landing                Montenotte, Italy

1986 Dutch Viking

Date  30th Aug – 2nd September 1986

Pilots                    Henk Brink, Willem Hageman & Evelien Brink

Balloon                 Roziere – Cameron Balloons R-225. 225,000 cu ft (6,370 m³). c/n 1230. PH-EIS

Launch                 St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada

Landing                Almere, Nr Amsterdam, Netherlands

1987 Virgin Atlantic Flyer

Date                  2nd – 3rd July 1987

Pilots                    Per Lindstrand & Richard Branson

Balloon                 Hot Air – Colt 2500A. 2,290,000 cu ft (64,845 m³). s/n 1100. G-USUK

Launch                 Sugarloaf, Maine, USA

Landing                Limavady, Northern Ireland. Then Ditched in Irish Sea

1992 La Ciudad de Helva

Date                  8th – 14th February 1992

Pilots                    Thomas Feliu & Jesus Gonzales Green

Balloon                 Roziere. Cameron Balloons R-60. 60,000 cu ft (1,700 m³). s/n 2057. G-BRGU

Launch                 Hierro, Canary Islands

Landing                Maturin, Venezuela

Notes                    First Transatlantic Balloon Flight From East to West

1992 Chrysler 1

Date           16th – 21st September 1992

Pilots                    Wim Verstraeten & Bertrand Piccard (Belgium)

Balloon                 Rozier. Cameron R-77. 77,000 cu ft (2,180 m³). s/n 2712. G-BUFA

Launch                 Bass Park Raceway. Bangor, Maine, USA.

Landing                Peque, Spain

1992 Chrysler 3

Date          16th – 21st September 1992

Pilots           Don Cameron & Rob Bayly

Balloon                 Rozier. Cameron R-77. 77,000 cu ft (2,180 m³). s/n 2823. G-BUFC

Launch                 Bass Park Raceway. Bangor, Maine, USA.

Landing                Figueira da Foz, Portugal

Notes                    2nd Place in the Chrysler Transatlantic Challenge

1992 Chrysler 5

Date          16th – 22nd September 1992

Pilots                    Richard Abruzzo & Troy Bradley (USA)

Balloon                 Rozier. Cameron R-77. 77,000 cu ft (2,180 m³). s/n 2825. G-BUFE

Launch                 Bass Park Raceway. Bangor, Maine, USA.

Landing                Sidi Amar El Kadmiri, near Casablanca, Morocco

Notes                    3rd Place in the Chrysler Transatlantic Challenge

1994 Peregrine

Date                  18th – 22nd August 1994

Pilots                 Steve Fossett & Tim Cole

Balloon                 Roziere. Cameron R-77. 77,000 cu ft (2,180 m³). s/n 3228. G-BVJO

Launch                 Feildian Gardens, St.John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

Landing                Trittau, Near Hamburg, Germany

2000 Region Lorrain

Date   30th Aug – 5th September 2000

Pilots                    Laurent Lajoye & Christophe Houver

Balloon                 Roziere. Lindstrand LBL 77M. 77,000 cu ft (2,180 m³).

Launch                 St John, New Brunswick, Canada

Landing                Saon, France

Notes                    First French Crossing of The Atlantic

2003 Uniq Atlantic Challenge

Date    26th – 29th September 2003

Pilot              David Hempleman-Adams

Balloon                 Roziere. Cameron R-90, 90,000 cu ft (2,550 m³). s/n 4751. G-BYZX

Launch                 Elementary School, Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada

Landing                Grange Farm, Stalmine, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire UK

Notes                    First Transatlantic Balloon Flight in an Open Wicker Basket

2007 Toshiba Transatlantic Challenge

Date               3rd – 6th July 2007

Pilot             David Hempleman-Adams

Balloon                 Helium. Padelt G-37. 37,000 cu ft (1,048m³). s/n 37TA. N66050

Launch                 St John’s Newfoundland

Landing                Nolay, France  )

Notes                    Smallest Balloon to Cross The Atlantic


Let’s us hope that Mike and Debbie make it a 12th, and record breaking one.



Trailblazing English balloonist Margaret Graham, who currently lies in an unmarked pauper’s grave in Hackney’s Magnificent Seven cemetery and park, is the subject of a new fundraising campaign.
The local volunteer-led Trust has set a £5,000 target to pay for the memorial.
Mrs Graham was a pioneer of early female flight, showbiz celebrity and intrepid reporter who wrote gripping accounts of her aerial exploits.
And now the Abney Park Trust, which looks after the park’s ecology, history and community in partnership with Hackney Council, has paired up with Sharon Wright – journalist and author of “The Lost History of the Lady Aeronauts”.
The two are working together to honour Mrs Graham by raising money for a fitting memorial to her remarkable life.
To donate towards the headstone,  CLICK HERE.
All details on the website HERE.


Well we finally got the 16th BBM&L Inflation Day event completed – the previous days forecast was so frustrating and I must admit I ‘lost the will’ and all motivation at one point as one could sense a very poor event approaching, which would have been so disappointing! Covid beat us twice previously (no choice there) but this one was in our hands so we stood our ground (resisted all the prompts to ‘roll’ the event or even cancel) and had a very surprising and thankfully successful day!  36 balloons came out of their bags creating very challenging conditions for the crews and in particular the pilots who ultimately had the difficult decisions to make – to cold inflate or go hot – they all did a grand job for the benefit of the Museum and John Tyrrell (Safety Officer) was very pleased with the professional and safe approach from everyone – the enthusiasm from the four main teams was beyond the call!

We send our thanks to Andy Marshall for sharing his video of the activities.


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