Monday, 27 June 2016

Congratulations to Ed for completing his training - and Betty at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta 2016

Congratulations to Ed Dablin for completing his training on the Beech 18 this weekend!

Photo by Peter Russell
Ed and Bill flew Betty last weekend and she was spotted by Peter Russell who kindly sent us these two photos of Betty on her approach for finals at Staverton.

Great news and dates for your diaries: Betty will be seen flying a display over the grounds of Ashton Court in Bristol during the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta which attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators every year. 
Photo by Peter Russell
Pilot John Dodd will be in command flying Betty on Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th of August sometime mid-afternoon. So do come to Bristol to see her flying! The light-weight Voyager balloon will of course also participate alongside with 150 other balloons during this highly popular event.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Updates and another nice video by Kevin MacDonald

Dear followers,

you might be wondering what's going on?

Well, we haven't been sitting all day in the pub drinking cider but worked quite hard over the last week on more sponsorship opportunities, discussions with the team and getting the aeroplane ready for her great journey.

Betty getting ready for her display flight

Ed has now nearly completed his training and Betty did a nice 3-days tour around the South-country and Wales.

the interior of the aeroplane with the new seats

plenty of folks watching the airshow from Brean
The Red Arrows at Weston-Super-Mare
Yesterday she flew a display - conducted by pilot Jon Corley - at the Weston-Super-Mare airshow. Hundreds of viewers admired her low fly-past over the sea before the Red Arrows roared in. Today sadly the weather closed in and Betty has to remain in Staverton.

But hopefully she will be been flying again over Gloucestershire as we are training new pilots to get familiar with her.

The master plan for the Trans-Atlantic is now set for the end of August/beginning of September! Let's all keep fingers crossed. There are still a few hurdles to overcome!

Kevin has created two more nice videos for us, so enjoy by clicking the following vimeo links and once more a big 'thank you' to Kevin for being so supportive in this project!

Kevin MacDonald:

Short interviews with Phil and Allie and balloon flight from North Hill Gliding

Betty flies....

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Two wonderful photos of Betty by Jemma Phillips of Doxey Creative Photography

Photo by Doxey Creative Photography, Jemma Phillips
Thanks to professional photographer Jemma Phillips for allowing me to post her superb shots of Betty taking to the skies during her flights in Gloucester a few weeks ago!

Photo by Doxey Creative Photography, Jemma Phillips

Jemma happened to be near the airfield when she spotted Betty and as a camerawomen she is never without her Canon 1 DX MK1. 

To find out more about her photography and interests please visit her inspiring website: 

Friday, 10 June 2016

A break from the Beech to the Beach!

A retreat from Beeching by the beaches of South Devon: a balloon flight, a walk along the coast and a swim in the sea!

Of course we couldn't resist taking a balloon with us!

So it happened that on Wednesday morning we launched from the friendly Glider site at North Hill.

Weather conditions initially were slightly marginal with low cloud and quite some wind, but by the time we had rigged the voyager the skies were clear and we took off just after 7.30am.

                                                                          The flight took us initially over very pretty rolling countryside before we managed a tricky intermediate landing and changed over crew and pilot.

I now took control and flew with friend Kevin MacDonald on board who was by coincidence staying with relatives in a near-by village.

Our flight track allowed us to fly right along the lively and picturesque high street of Honiton before we landed in a nicely cut grass field to the south-east of the market town.

the market town of Honiton

Packing up followed by delicious breakfast and a freezing cold dip in the sea.

Our batteries recharged we headed back to Bristol to carry on with planning and organising what next for 'onthebeech'.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Silver Lining

Well, you must be wondering what's been happening as there has been a prolonged silence on this site. Indeed Phil and I had a seriously depressing week coming to a point where we nearly wanted to give up! 
Flying out of Staverton airport with a balloon

This project is not only about flying an old aeroplane carrying a hot air balloon across very demanding territory it's probably even more so about the challenge to wedge several individuals and personalities into one team to make this all work. 

As we have now sadly missed two deadlines for setting off on the Trans-Atlantic trip due to various unforeseen happenings, our pilots are running up against their available time. We still have no idea when we can start the expedition and the emotional strain is huge but we don’t want to give up.

Flying past Gloucester cathedral
over the docks

This weekend at least Bill and Ed have taken Betty up to Llanbedr in northern Wales where they are conducting intensive flight training and getting familiar with our ‘old lady’.  

The team then flew her to Newquay and they will be taken her around the Scilly Isles today before returning to Gloucester for the week.
Betty is in good shape we hear and the pilots are enjoying their flights.

But every dark cloud has a silver lining - and so it happened that Phil and I finally had an unexpected reunion with Phil’s previous wife Jane and his two (of three) long-lost daughters! This would not have been possible had we been already departed on this trip!

Phil and two of his daughters, Fiona (left) and Philippa (right) 
We also did some ballooning and made progress on sorting various other things to do with the planned adventure.
Kevin MacDonald in the meantime chased Betty and documented some of her circuits and we are looking forward to seeing more of his footage appearing on this blog shortly.