Friday, 29 December 2017

Ciel et Terre publication

I am very sorry for not having updated this blog for such a long time, but I have been exploring the remoter corners of Mongolia and Burma by balloon over the last weeks and months whilst Phil has been briefly back to the UK and to Germany to attend an important EASA meeting in Cologne.

Besides our current jobs as pilots and examiners/inspectors for Oriental Ballooning, the team - together with our pilots John Herbert and Flippie Vermeulen and engineer Roger Shepherd - is working hard to prepare for another epic 'On the Beech' adventure! Will post more about the new itinerary and ideas in the next message.

 For now, please enjoy reading an article by Bernard Fore which was published in the French magazine 'Ciel et Terre'.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Article of our Trans-Atlantic in the British Women Pilots' Association (BWPA) newsletter

NEW: article in the British Women Pilots' Association  (BWPA) newsletter!

With the weather continuing to be either too wet or too windy or too something else to fly our balloons here in Bagan, Myanmar, I am delighted to read the latest edition of the BWPA's newsletter which includes a report on the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, flights in a Tigermoth in Cambridge and many other interesting aviation events.

For more info on the BWPA please see their website at:! And if you are interested in meeting like-minded women (and men!) then why not join up??

The other news so far are that Phil arrived here in Bagan a few days ago to do our inspections and check flights and that we are both still working on next year's plans to join the Ushuaia2USA rally. 

Keep fingers crossed that we can get our lovely bird in the air again in March 2018!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Aerostat article with a feature about our 'On the Beech' adventure is out!

The latest edition (Oct 17)  of the British Balloon and Airship (BBAC) club's world-wide magazine 'Aerostat' features this report on our epic journey! Enjoy reading it here - or even better - become a member and receive the printed copy of it! Thank you Richard Wiles for compiling the article and to all photographic contributors. I hope you enjoy the read!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

New model of our Beech 18 G-BKGM soon to be released!


Oxford Diecast Twin Beech G-BKGM - Bristol Airways

Product Code: 72BE001

In the Oxford Development Programme

For release at a future date. We will notify you when this product becomes available.

Model Aircraft based on the Twin Beech G-BKGM - Bristol Airways 1:72 Scale

Get your order in before they sell out!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Vintage Air Rally 2018!

Hi everybody,

sorry that it's been a while since I last updated this blog but we haven't been just sitting around doing nothing. In contrary the team as been busy flying and - in Phil's part - organizing the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta mid August which was a success with around 130 balloons taking off during four slots from Bristol's Ashton Court.
Allie at the controls of a gyrocopter in Mongolia
Then Allie took G-CEFS on an expedition trip to Mongolia with her ballon G-CEFS and exploring new corners of this wonderful upcoming country, whilst Phil took to the skies with his mate Pete Bish to fly up north to Abbots Bromley in G-BIAP (a Piper PA 16 clipper) and to attend the LAA fly-in at Sywell early September.

We are now reunited for a short time before Allie heads out to Burma on the 28th of Sept for work as a balloon pilot during the winter. Phil will join her mid Oct for a period of time.

In the meantime though the team has been working hard to organize the second sector of the 'On the Beech' round-the-world tour linking up once more with vintage air rally organizer Sam Rutherford. Sam's new plans include a crazy Ushuaia2USA tour starting in March including several vintage aircraft from all over the world and covering most of South-and Central America finishing in Miami! 

Please see his website at: Vintage air rally 2018

We hope to be part of this incredible journey - so watch this space!

In the meantime Mark Albery (pilot with Rogier in the RV) has published a great article about our joint Trans-Atlantic Tour in the 'Flyer' Magazine. Check it out here and even better get yourself a copy of the magazine in the shops right now before it's sold out:

Who knows, but maybe next year you might be able to read another story about the Beech and the balloon making history in countries such as Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, Cuba and finally the USA?

Last but not least, I cannot refrain from posting some photos from Mongolia. It's a beautiful country with wonderful people and great for flying balloons, aeroplanes and gyrocopters, so come and join me there next year!

balloon launch

shaddow of balloon over ger camp

flying over amazing rock formations
Interview with Mongolia TV presenter Grace Brown

G-CEFS flying in Mongolia

camels roaming the steppes...

Flying with pilot Alexandr Amir over the Ghenggis Khan monument

horse man with his lasso

happy balloon team after landing

beautiful temples...

and stunning scenery at remote lake Khosvsgol

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Beech in good hands at Edenvale

The Beech over Gloucestershire - photo by Richard Paver
Phil and I have been trying to catch up with domestic and social life back in Bristol but we also had discussions with RGV  regarding the future maintenance programme of G-BKGM. 

In the meantime, Chris the engineer at Edenvale/Canada has inhibited the Beech, put her feet warmers on and looked after her. A great relief to know that she is in safe and good hands for the winter!

I have finally replaced my lost video camera with a more sophisticated piece of camera and sorted tons of photographs and videos.

But we also received some wonderful photos from our friends which I would like to share with you here. The first couple of shots were taken by professional aviation photographer Richard Paver on the 18th of June flying in Andrew Holman-West's Yak 52 G-BXAK. 

photo by Richard Paver

Bristol Airways in formation with a Yak 52 - photo by Richard Paver
Our Beech was flown by pilot John Herbert and in the right hand seat was engineer Roger Shepherd. 
The back seats were occupied by Phil's son Nick Dunnington and myself. We flew for ca 30 mins up to Worcester and back via Cheltenham.

Rocky and Mark Albery at Narsarsuaq in their home-built RV
We also received some stunning photographs by one of the RV pilots, Rogier Westerhuis who has just relocated to Boston/US. 

Thanks Rocky for your marvelous photos of the Beech over the breathtaking mountain scenery of northern Canada!

The Beech over Arctic Canada - photo by Rogier Westerhuis

The Beech near Pangnirtung/Canada

photo by Rogier Westerhuis

And finally - journalist Paula Froehlich - has published an interesting article about our touch down at the spooky American Air base Bluie East 2 in Greenland. Read her story here:

Saturday, 22 July 2017

At the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, near Toronto, Canada

Niagara falls!
It's hard believe that we've only been home for a few days. Exactly one a week ago, Phil and I were still in Canada sitting in a Airbus H 130 helicopter cruising low over the stunning Niagara falls.

we were in one of those!

The flight actually turned out to be longer than average with 17mins and took us over right along the gorge, then a big loop over the falls before routing along the south side of the city back to base.

A great experience! And lucky we came early as the queues quickly expanded.
view to the falls from the helicopter
We then headed towards Toronto but stopped at the Canadian warplane heritage museum in Hamilton, As we approached the airfield, we heard some wonderful deep sounds. There they were: a Lancaster followed by a Catalina.
The Lancaster after its flight
The Catalina. Phil flew across Africa in one of those many years ago
What a great chance to see those rare aeroplanes flying! And to our astonishment, no other than celebrity rock star and keen aviator Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden stepped out of the Lancaster obviously having taken this opportunity to get some hands on flying prior to a late night concert in downtown Toronto.
The 'other' Beech on display in the museum
The Canadian Warplane Museum is certainly one of the best in the world in terms of historic aircraft but even more to the point: nearly all of their aircraft are still in use and flying!
If you want to have a ride though in the Lanci, you need to book about a year in advance and have a big bank account! Ours was empty and we were too late anyway...
Phil and Bill

But we enjoyed very nice chats with the chief pilot and some of the airport/museum staff and we saw Betty's sister!! This aircraft is also still flying and beautifully maintained by an engineer who funnily turns out to be from Bristol! (not the many other Bristols that you will find the States, but ours in the UK!)

We were kindly introduced to Beech pilot Bill McBride who talked about this aircraft but also seemed to know quite a lot about Betty's origins.
Listen to this short talk between Bill and Phil sitting in the Beechcraft:

It turns out that our aircraft would be better suited to the museum, because our saw 10 years or more in use as a navigation trainer for the Royal Canadian Air force. Oh well, maybe one day she finds a home here - at least she would be in brilliant company and in very good hands!

We then drove to Toronto where we enjoyed a final farewell dinner with Chris and Melaya Horston before boarding our BA flight back to London.
in the heli...
4 weeks away, 4000 nautical miles by air and 2500miles by road, 4 countries, 6 balloon flights and 35hours in the Beech! We had an amazing time and are extremely grateful and relieved that it all went so well!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Enjoy some amazing photos of our Trans-Atlantic flight taken by Mark Albery

Rogier, or in short 'Rocky' and his friend Mark, flew their home-built RV across the Atlantic often flying in formation with us in the Beech 18. Rocky took some beautiful photos of our trip, which he kindly allowed me to share with you.

Please enjoy those photos all taken by Mark Albery:

Allie trying the survival suit in Wick (it was too large so had to do without it!)

Allie checking her balloon prior to flight in Iceland

first ever aeroplane balloon retrieve and drop off in history (Narsarsuaq Greenland)

Allie inflating the balloon in Egilstadir, Iceland

Bear island, Northern Canada

Betty the Beech flying along the coast of Greenland

The Beech over Greenland

morning mist over the Kulusuk bay

first ever hot air balloon flight Narsarsuaq, Greenland

spotting a crashed DC 3 north of Iqaluit

Ice in the bay of Kulusuk

kids playing in Qikiqtarjuaq, Arctic Canada

the village of Kulusuk

Allie taking off in Egilstadir, Iceland

happy girl with country no 84 in her logbook

approach to Narsarsuaq , southern Greenland as seen from the RV


free flight over Greenland

:Paula, Rocky and John on a walk

preparations for the balloon flight in Greenland

saying farewell to the burnt spats in Qik

Sam Rutherford at the controls of his Saratoga

John Herbert in the Beech (with us on board) and Sam Rutherford in formation flight over Greenland

the RV approaching Kulusuk airport

all in Betty during a taxi at Iqaluit, northern Canada

Timothy Allen playing with his drone in Qik surrounded by local kids

The best fish supper of the trip at Isafjodor,North western Iceland