Well, if you remember, I left you when I was flying around with Barbara in her and Chris's plane.  Well, as I rejoin you, I'm still doing that.  Only now we're above their house and barns.

In the yard you can see a glider trailer - they've got 2 gliders - and a horse box, for their 2 donkeys.  They also have 6 cats, 2 dogs, 2 ducks, 5 hens, and a deep yellow MGB to go with their 3 balloons and 2 houses.  It will surprise no one, and I'm sure they won't mind me saying it,  that as a result of all these toys they've got no money left!  The renovation of the farmhouse, more or less centre of the photo, is on hold for the moment, while they live in the improved pig sties lower left.

After the flight was a dinner at the flying club, based at the aerodrome.  It was Tete de veaux.  (Calf's head)  I didn't like it.  Maybe it's an acquired taste.

Next day a couple more inspections, in the small field top left of the above photo.  Kevin with a Lindstrand, and Julien, with a Cameron.  Julien had driven from Brest, an 800 mile round trip.  Both balloons are getting on a bit, but both passed.

Next morning I took the pretty route to drive home but didn't have a lot of time to stop although I dawdled a bit at first following the river Gartempe.

In St Junien I bought lunch in the supermarket and was tempted by the special offer on some shoes.  I bought 2 pairs. Soon after I found another Château, at Rochechouart.  It's not actually very hard to find Châteaux in France, they are all over the place. (Châteaux is the plural of château.  This is an educational update.)

This was a rather nice little lake just off my route.

Back home and more paperwork.  An unbelievable amount and unbelievably stupid.  There is no way that the EASA bean counters in Cologne, who very obviously have no real knowledge of balloon operations, can hope to improve on the old system, which over 30 years in the UK had a 100% safety record.  I know of no problems whatsoever that can be connected to the annual inspection of balloons over that period.

I must here declare a vested interest.  It was me, 30 years ago, who developed the old system in the UK, with maximum emphasis on safety, and minimum concern with paperwork.  My efforts were recognised at the time, I received the Tissandier Diploma from the International Aeronautical Federation for this and similar work, presented to me by Prince Andrew.  I doubt today's bean counters will be so recognised.  Except maybe by the Bean Counters Federation, with an award for the largest increase in incomprehensible and useless paperwork.

Well, we live today.  So when I got back home I started checking through the paperwork.  Wow!  This is really going to increase the safety, and stop people being killed.  Except there weren't any being killed before, not connected to the annual inspection anyway.   Not many others either, for any reason.

17 pages of complicated questions.  Not enough space on my desk for all the papers.  Some call it the European Agency for the Suppression of Aviation. They, the bean counters,  prefer, I am sure, that the S should stand for safety but that's a joke.  Here's my room while I am trying to check the paperwork.

Finally, after messing with the papers, I got to fly.  That's why we still bother with the paperwork.  At least the bean counters can't take that pleasure away from us.  I'm sure they'd like to.

This, below,  is the hamlet where I live.  I took off from that little patch of green just showing mid right.

I could have picked a better field for the landing.  It had been a maize field, the old sharp stalks were still there, It took for ever to pack the balloon up without risking it on the stalks.

We flew again the next day.  Here is my village.  As  you can see, a bourgening metropolis.

and looking at it from the other direction.  I've marked our start point.

We landed right next to the road this time, with no problems from maize stalks..

The next night was planned for an Irish night at a nearby village, to celebrate St Patrick's day, so no flying.  Drinking Guinness took priority.  Hazel, English neighbour, said she had drunk half a Jamieson too many, but it was not apparent from her demeanour.

But Sunday was OK.  I forgot my camera, so no photos.  It was faster, but with 2 recent flights under my belt I had recovered 90% of my previous skills, (it's nearly 2 years since I last flew a balloon),  so a nice flight with an easy landing.  9 miles in 45 minutes.  I told the farmer where we landed that the balloon was 32 years old.  But it looks new he said.  He's right.  It does.  My passenger, a neighbour, Julien, is 17.  The balloon is nearly twice his age.

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