BBM&L 2016 AGM & Annual Luncheon

The Annual British Balloon Museum & Library Luncheon is going to be on Sunday 30th October. It will be at the Mercure Elcot Park Hotel near Newbury, Berkshire. The BBM&L’s Annual General Meeting will take place just before the luncheon, and all Friends are welcome to attend, the AGM is at 11.00am. Click here for the Agendamike-kendrick

We are really pleased that Mike Kendrick has agreed to be our speaker after the lunch. Mike’s roots are in marketing and PR which is where he discovered t
he power of aerial advertising. This led him to form Lighter Than Air Ltd. where he produced numerous TV programs on a local, national and international level to commercialize the potential of hot air balloons and airships. You might have read about his exploits in ‘Thursday’s Child’, his book, which was reviewed in Trailrope last year.

In 1988, in partnership with Richard Branson, Mike formed the Virgin Airship and Balloon Company, operating over 70 aircraft in some 30 countries, for blue chip clients like Goodyear, Budweiser, Met Life and Sanyo.

As Project Director for all of Sir Richard’s high-profile world record attempts, Mike was responsible for flight operations, safety, technical assessment and media management. In 1999, Mike founded The Mineseeker mike-with-landmine-victims-mozambiqueFoundation to raise awareness for landmine victims and to seek technological solutions for clearing mines. He personally recruited eminent patrons including Nelson Mandela, Queen Noor, Sir Richard Branson, and Lord Attenborough.

But his current adventure is as Co-founder and CEO of Straightline Aviation, purchaser of the Airlander, the biggest hybrid airship in the world. Built in the airship sheds at Cardington, it has attracted a lot of press coverage. Lockheed Martin has signed a letter of intent with Straightline Aviation for the sale of 12 of its new Hybrid Airships, a deal worth US$480 million. Delivery is scheduled to begin in 2018 and continue until 2021.

Mike will be able to tell us about all the ups and downs of many of his adventures, and hopefully be able to tell us about his next book, the Branson Years, and when it will be released.

You can book online by clicking on the Shop at the top of this website.Elcot Park

So with the lunch, the speaker and Robin Batchelor, our President, presiding over our auction, it is an event not to be missed.


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

Have you Missed a Trailrope?

Here are the front covers of the last four Trailropes, the journal of the British Balloon Museum & Library.

The most recent one has all the reports on the most amazing Inflation Day, held on May 7th.Frontcovers smaller

But do you realise that for £10 a year you receive four Trailropes plus invitations to the luncheon and other events.

There is a membership- be a Friend of the Museum – form in the shop section of the website.

The Annual Luncheon and AGM will be at the Elcot Newbury, Berkshire on Sunday 30th October. Further details will be in the next Trailrope.

Not an event to miss.

The BBM&L 14th Inflation Day, May 7th 2016


The British Balloon Museum & Library are pleased to announce that the 14th Inflation Day will be held on Saturday May 7th 2016.Inflation Day Poster 2016_001

We are looking forward to welcoming you all to Lakeside Lodge at Pidley, near Huntingdon, where David Hopkins has very graciously agreed to host it again for us.

LAAS International, the Aviation Enthusiasts Group, is sponsoring the day.

For all balloon enthusiasts, there are some very unusual balloons that we hope to inflate, a lot of them only recently donated to the BBM&L. The team organising the event have been working hard and will continue to do so for the next few months.

If the weather is incredibly bad, and that means very bad indeed, then the decision to cancel will be made on Friday 6th May. If in doubt check the Lakeside website.

Below are the links for the relevant information, please click on the link and print them out.

For further pilot guidelines, Please print out Inflation Day Pilot Guidelines 2016.

To register, please fill in Blank Inflation Registration Form 2016-V.1

BBM&L 2015 AGM & Annual Luncheon

Greg Winker talkingThe Annual Luncheon of the British Balloon Museum took place at the Elcot near Newbury, Berkshire at the end of October and was really well attended.

The BBM&L were lucky to have persuaded Greg and Molly Winker to have cut short their European tour to come and tell us about Early American ballooning. It was early too, photographs going back to the 1960s, and a myriad of inventions that went with the tales of people and pilots revered by so many. Greg’s Father, Jim was a photographer amongst other things for Raven and General Mills which is why the photographs were so incredible. Ed Yost, Don Piccard, Tracy Barnes, Jim Winker and many more flashed up in the presentation. Actually the talk would not have happened if Dani Maimone had not helped set up the projector and oversaw the whole presentation.

Greg was such a good speaker and had us all entranced and fascinated.

The BBM&L President, Robin Batchelor, then held the auction of some special ballooning artefacts which, thanks to the generosity of the diners, managed to raise funds for the museum.Angela Lickorish trophy

The Chairman’s award, the David Liddiard Trophy, was awarded to Angela Lickorish by Richard d’Alton for her unswerving dedication over the years towards helping John Crawford, the Treasurer and the BBM&L through the minefield of paperwork that surrounds the finances of any charity.

Robin Batchelor AuctioneerNew Picture (1)More details about the photographs will be in the December Trailrope. If you are not yet a Friend of the Museum, just go Don Piccards flightinto the shop at the top of the page and sign up to make sure
of your copy.

Anthony Smith’s Memorial Service

On Thursday 18th June at 11.30 am St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 8AU over 300 people attended the Memorial service for a remarkable man in the history of ballooning, exploration,  raft expeditions and journalism.

Anthony’s son Adam looked forward to welcoming all who remembered his Father, and he was amazed at how many hundreds of people involved with ballooning were present.

Robin Batchelor, balloonist, adventurer and a close friend of Anthony’s did a reading, as did David Attenborough who had worked with Anthony over the years.



Anthony’s picture is by Rob Bayly


The Auction of Promises

Robin Batchelor, our intrepid adventurer, and the President of the BBM&L will be the Auctioneer for the following items in the Auction of Promises.

This is held after our amazing speaker has enthralled us and after what looks like being a splendid lunch.Cameron balloons

Auction of PromisesSpa in GuildfordBrooklands Radio

  1. See how a radio show is recorded and take part? With Dani Maimone at http://www.brookla
  2. A conducted tour around a large printing factory, Stephens & George, with Commercial Director Simon Davies. It is where they print the Aerostat and a billion other things. (Merthyr Tydfil)
  3. A really in depth conducted tour around Cameron balloons and tea afterwards with Don Cameron (Bristol)Stephens & George
  4. An hour’s stimulating flight in a two seater Europa light aircraft from White Waltham Airfield  with John Crawford, or two thirty minute flights. (Maidenhead)
  5. Spa treatment for an hour and afternoon tea at the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Guildford, or the Radisson Blu Edwardian New Providence Wharf, Canary Wharf London to be taken before 25th MarchElcot Park2015.David Body's Riley
  6. David Body is offering a ride in one of his Riley Cars, they are so lovely. (Aylesbury)
  7. Bed and Breakfast for two people at the Mercure Newbury Elcot Park Hotel, perfect for the Icicle weekend

Book your tickets now either by going to the shop section of this website or sending a cheque made out to the BBM&L to Jennifer d’Alton, Manderville, Links Road, Amble, Morpeth, Northumberland NE 65 0SB

Martin Harris, the most famous Meteorologist for Balloons and Airships in the World, is the Speaker on October 26th

Martin Harris on RTW work in Feb 1998 300dpi

The British Balloon Museum & Library are holding their Annual General Meeting on 26th October at 11.00 at the Mercure Newbury Elcot Hotel (The Elcot), near Newbury, Berkshire, followed by a scrumptious three course meal..

The Museum is extremely honoured that Martin Harris has agreed to be the post-prandial speaker and tell us a few tales of his exploits over the last 50 years.

Martin Harris was first drawn into active ballooning at the 1965 Daily Telegraph International Balloon Race, starting from Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshire on a beautiful summer day, when this event was obviously much more attractive than studying for a degree in the nearby university!

For nearly half a century he used his specialist meteorological knowledge to teach aviation meteorologists, and to help to support the emerging sport of hot air ballooning in the UK, and he later became an expert on safe airship operations.

After supporting numerous ballooning epics from the first trans-Alpine hot air flight in 1972 to the Round-the-World-Balloon Races, he more recently supplied the meteorological briefings for the 2010 Gordon Bennett Race and for the 2013 Queen’s Cup Race.

Meet in the bar for coffee or a drink before, and we sit down at about 12.30pm. The menu looks wonderful and the speaker is brilliant.

Of course there will be an Auction after lunch of some exquisite balloon related items, plus the Auction of Promises where some items have absolutely nothing to do with balloons or airships.

This really will be a Sunday afternoon with a difference, so book your tickets for the luncheon now online here.  £24 per head is jolly good value for the entertainment and a proper lunch from the Elcot’s new five star chef.

The Elcot Hotel has had a face lift since last year. The address is

Mercure Elcot Park Hotel, Elcot, Newbury RG20 8NJ


You can also book by sending a cheque made out to BBM&L, to Jennifer d’Alton, Manderville, Links Road, Amble, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 0SB


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