Commercial Pilot Training Flight - 04.07.19

These photographs were taken on a hot air ballon flight, out of Newton St Loe, Bath with a meeting time of 06:00.

With the weather conditions being tricky due to the lack of wind and the noise restrictions for flying from Bath in the mornings, balloonists are now using local farmer Hugh Gays's fields for launches.  It quickly becomes dangerous in hot conditions, so balloon flights have to be carried out very early in the mornings.

I was privileged to be invited to fly today by Nic Amor from Bath, Bristol Balloons, as one of his pilots, Dr Colin Hodges was on a training flight.  I have flown with Colin before, on a training flight, when he first became a commercial balloon pilot, a few years ago.  Today, Colin was progressing towards being a higher grade of commercial pilot, with a larger balloon.

We were also blessed with a very experienced pilot to help and observe the flight.  This pilot was Phil Dunnington BA, one of the world’s most widely experienced commercial balloon pilots, who in the course of extending ballooning projects has flown in 89 countries, with over 2000 hours as pilot in command. Phil has been flying balloons commercially since 1971, he has also been the UK’s chief examiner for balloon licences for over 15 years.  Phil is a director of europe’s largest annual public balloon spectacle, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.  Phil also made a historic ‘first’ by crossing the North West Passage in Nunavut, Canada, in 1999 with David Hempleman-Adams with the British Typhoo Challenger balloon.  David is another pilot, I have worked with on the ballooning front.

We were the last of five balloons to get aloft today and basically got nowhere fast, apart from up and down.  This is why when these conditions are predicted, all inner city flights are transferred to other sites.  We drifted around very slowly for over an hour taking in the wonderful views and watching to see how the other balloons were affected at different altitudes.  The added problem this time of year is there are very few landing sites.  If it is not arable crops, power cables or sensitive areas with livestock etc it is a case of not being able to get over the site.  It leaves you with a lottery to pick your way to a secure landing site and a friendly landowner, with relatively easy access.

We watched one of Clive Bailey's balloons make a successful landing below us just south of Saltford and the A39 and with relatively large fields ajoing to aim for.  Clive himself was having a struggle, just behind us, on a different tract surrounded by crops.  He managed to negotiate these fields to land alongside our balloon, by now with the other balloons in the same fields, there was an abundance of labour to get the balloons landed safely.
It makes little difference who owns which balloon, when they are flying they all work together, which makes things easier and safer.  It is a wonderful thing to be with and observe, how these experienced pilots deal with the sometimes difficult flying conditions.  

Thank you once again to all my balloonists friends for a wonderful days entertainment.


Newton St Loe Balloon Meet - 20.04.19

These photographs were taken on Saturday evening at Newton St Loe.

15 balloons took off for an evening flight, while in Bath further balloons also took to the air and headed South West on a light breeze.


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  • Eleanor firmstone (Thursday, January 23 20 09:20 am GMT)

    Hi, do you have any information on the steam roller ru7342. We now own the roller and wondered what year this was taken.
    Thanks Eleanor

  • Sarah Mitchell (Wednesday, September 11 19 10:31 pm BST)

    Hi there is a wonderful picture you took of a dear friend of mine on his journey to the gdsf this year. It is in the western daily press dated 22/08/19 Carl Brown roading the Marshall to gdsf. I cannot locate this picture on any website to purchase and was hoping i could purchase through yourself many thanks Sarah

  • John Baines (Friday, April 05 19 03:45 pm BST)

    Have you any photogaphs of James & Crockerills yard in Durrington? Their MD Peter Barber owned the Burrell Scenic Road loco 'Prince of Wales@ and other engines including Burrell roller 'Daffodil'

  • Zoe Read (Saturday, March 02 19 07:08 pm GMT)

    I see you already have dates for this one but I wondered if you would consider adding Purbeck Rally to your event list?
    9th -11th August
    worgret road, wareham, dorset, BH20 6AB
    Raising funds for Forest Holme Hospice Charity & other local causes.

  • Andrew Gray (Wednesday, February 20 19 07:55 pm GMT)

    Is that Mr Dimmer and the train made at Durrington Sec Modern, I started there 1963 and left 1968. Mr Dimmer (Regg) was such a great teacher. Wonderful set of images to treasure. p.s we met today at the Boscombe Down Tornado fly past.

  • Jamie (Saturday, September 01 18 01:39 am BST)


    I am Jamie. One of the coalomen from last weeks steam fair. I know you mentioned taking lots of photos of us and it would be lovely to see them. Please get back to me when you can with prices ect i will most certainly purchase a few! In the meantime i will admire wgat you have on your page here already, hope you enjoyed the show! Speak soon


  • Don Russell (Friday, August 17 18 08:51 am BST)

    Hullo, found your site when looking for GDSF info. I was wondering if you had any information regarding engines travelling to the GDSF. I read engines will be raising money for cancer on there journey but I cannot find any info regarding route and timings.Thanks

  • Brian Moore (Saturday, August 04 18 12:40 pm BST)

    Thanks David: Brian

  • Peter Freeman (Thursday, May 10 18 09:56 pm BST)

    Fantastic site, easy to read and great pics! Keep up the good work.

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