2014 has started in the UK with the wettest January on record. A lucky mini-ridge with early morning frost enabled 5 balloons to free fly from the Icicle Meet on 5th Jan, whilst 2 more tethered. There has been very little chance to fly since, especially with so many fields so wet for landing.
Meanwhile the Epiphany Meet in Mondovi Italy, whilst not enjoying perfect weather, did manage 3 slots of out 4! Whilst with Mondovi, one of the balloons entering the List this month is an old, but low houred British registered Cameron V-77 which already lives there with Marc Wolff. This might appeal to one of the many Brits who clamour to have a second rig based in better weather in mainland Europe …. See G-BORB in Complete Balloons.
Sold during the month are 4 envelopes, all with low hours, plus a complete 90 and even one of our long standing airships G-TRIB! One complete 105 has been withdrawn from sale.
New for February are 4 x 77s, 2 complete, 2 envelope only plus a complete 105 and 180 and at the last minute, just before publication, a brand new Lindstrand 105 envelope with no artwork which has never been ‘out of the bag’! Zebedee has added about 20 cylinders to the List this issue fresh from 10 year PPT/PRV change etc. Also we once again have stocks of Bonanno fuel filters (see Zebedee Box) and Bonanno quick releases (see ‘Other’). Zebedee has just spent a day sorting out our substantial stock of fans, several having arrived recently for sale. All of the fans in the Zebedee Fan List in this issue were satisfactorily started & run on 2nd Feb, many having just returned from a service …. A number of price reductions to older stock have also been made.
A number of these new entries reflect a growing number of our UK private pilots ‘hanging up their gloves’ as a result of varying factors – but particularly more European regulation and I expect the dismal winter weather which we have experienced in recent years.
It is perhaps no coincidence that several ‘selling up’ calls & emails have come in during the past week – at the same time as the BBAC Pilots Circular announces the requirements for the new EASA licences / medicals which we must all have by April 2015.
So the BBAC has applied to become an ATO. We will get the choice of a LAPL(B) (up to 120s valid in EASA countries only) requiring a Class 2 medical from an AME or a GP certificate (but only if your GP takes part in the scheme) or a BPL – requiring a Class 2 medical with an AME but valid worldwide.
Add the extra cost of medicals for some; the cost of applying for the new licence; the need for R/T Licence holders to prove they can speak English; biennial checks with an Instructor/Examiner for all; currency requirements, not only for normal flying but also night ratings, tethering, hot-air & airships; size groupings of envelopes you want to fly; age restrictions for Commercial Ops and you can see why pilots are giving up. You can even pay extra to keep the licence you already have (!) to enable you to fly outside EASA-land ….
This must all rate as the most ridiculous European ballooning case of “it ain’t broke so let’s fix it ….” of all time – I fear that those of us left will have a big choice of equipment to buy in the future …..