Report Archive
June 2004 Newsletter
June 2005 Newsletter

Long Jump 2004

Basingstoke 2004



Members Reporting...

Long Jump Report 2005

Entrants: Gary Madelin and Jeff Lawton

Balloon: Cameron C 80 - Curved Air - G-OGJM

This years report of general [in] activities could well follow those of previous years by debating all the reasons why we didn't go on the good days, when the majority probably did…a number of reasons for those excuses, but despite plenty of wind coming from a generally southerly direction, which given our Surrey - Hampshire stamping ground gives us the best shot of a long flight, we still broke no records! We could possibly have done, but we'll leave that till next year!

Having each put an entry in last year, when we intended to fly together anyway, this year we put in a combined entry, but now submit two attempts for our esteemed judge to consider. Given that Jeff was away for nearly half the month, and I was due to miss the best part of the second week, I was keen to get a flight in as soon as the speed looked ok. Fellow Club mate Alan Hall had also put an entry in for the October madness and was keeping an eye on the weather. So it was that Monday 10th dawned with a pretty fast southerly wind. But, the TAF's for the airfields in the midlands, about 100 miles north of us were giving exciting forecast speeds with some gusting. Still, I set off in anticipation hoping for a 4 hour 100 mile+ flight, when Alan called my mobile to say the met balloon was exceedingly fast, and actually tracking towards the edge of the Heathrow zone. I looked at the trees thrashing about next to the lay-by I was parked up in, turned round and went back to work.

Next day, 11th was a pretty similar story, except that the midlands airfields were not giving any gusting on the afternoon TAF's although the mean speeds were similar to the day before. I was just debating what to do around mid morning, when the phone at work rang, and Nigel Hicks [who I did the Long Jump with in 96 and 97] was on the end of the line enquiring as to my jumping intentions. Knowing the sort of bloke Nigel is, I figured he would have done a thorough analysis of the days weather projection, and concluded that even though fast, it was certainly a feasibility. "I'll go if you jump in with me" And so it was that Nigel became Jeff for the purposes of a flight, and off I set.

I got home at mid day to collect the rig, to be greeted by my wife, who said "you're mad, it's blowing a gale" I must say it looked a tad on the breezy side, but if you're not on the field……etc. We knew that we ought to have got going earlier, but even so dithered on the take off site checking volmet all over the place. The viz had certainly worsened, and there was a frontal system approaching from the west. Still we figured a three-hour flight at the airmet quoted gradient would give us a respectable flight of 70 miles or so. The direction, at least, was fine.

Took off uneventfully from Colin and Audrey's paddock in Petersfield at 3pm and got a good speed straight away, with an ideal heading of 340 deg. We needed to keep our height below 1,500 feet for the first hour due to scattered cloud forming around us. I blamed the mediocre viz for mixing up Four Marks and Alton [how many years have I flown around this patch?] but I'm pleased to say that navigation got better the further we flew from base. Cloud broke up a bit north of Newbury, which was just as well as we climbed to 3,000 feet over the Harwell RA, and speed peaked at 32 knots. Shame we hadn't taken off two hours earlier. Approaching the Brize zone we called for transit clearance, although we both knew with the rapidly increasing overcast, that we would probably look for a landing before we got there. The helpful lady controller gave us the surface wind as 10 knots, gusting 18 knots, so a big field was sought. A call to retrieve man John Coney as to the current conditions at ground level, prompted a response of " looks bloody windy." Some large fields upwind were spotted in and amongst some daunting power lines, but there was a lot of space in between, and having rounded out at 300 feet, and noticed we were still doing 19 knots, I handed the controls over to Nigel for the final couple of minutes. It was great to be able to watch at first hand somebody so experienced handle the conditions that well. Levelled out at 10 feet, over a hedge and in well short of the power lines on the far side of the field. Touched down in 14 knots, with hardly a bump, but managed a 48 yard drag nonetheless. The field was enormous, probably one of the largest in Oxfordshire. The farmer told us it was 98 acres! So large in fact that we didn't see the herd of cows lurking at the far edge of the field! Turned out they were very inquisitive, and although we felt a bit embarrassed, the farmer didn't seem to mind at all. He just said " good job I took the Bull out of this field yesterday"

A good result, given that we were only airborne for just over two hours, we covered 54 statute miles. A well-deserved pint followed, and then I was out of the loop for a week playing with toy gliders in the States.

Jeff takes up the rest of the story for the second half of the month……..

Studies of Long Jump Reports will note the Lawton/Madelin, Madelin/Lawton efforts over the last 3 years have had varying levels of success from a few miles to 100 miles plus.

What really stands out from entering the event each year is the fun we have in a month that generally signifies a return for me of more conventional non Ballooning activities, such as Sainsburys, gardening, decorating and other chores.

In 2003 we spoke of a possible west/south westerly long jump and this idea was resurrected for the unusually short flying month of October. Due to work and holiday commitments the penultimate weekend was our first available opportunity to fly together.

Sunday the 23rd was looking a good possibility for our chosen trip along the south coast, with a forecast 1000ft 280/15knot, 3000ft 270/20knot and 6000 270/25knot we should be able to keep south of the Gatwick Zone and enjoy a pleasant flight towards Hastings.

Only one real concern, the forecast was for the wind to back during the day , so important we got off as early as possible and Bank as much of the westerly gradient as possible in the first few hours.

Logistics quickly used up the early morning and changes in launch site saw us rolling into a Bishops Waltham field [ thanks to Dave Triggs ] mid morning and a take off at 11am.

Gary soon found a due east direction at 1500ft and 20knots passing to the South of Petersfield we felt confident of keeping South of Gatwick Airspace. On towards Midhurst but the track of 090 proved difficult to maintain with 070 to 080 becoming the more dominant heading. This was not good news. Billingshurst was decision time, up to our ceiling of 2500ft no significant change in track, and therefore we could not miss the Gatwick Zone and so needed to land beforehand.

Good opportunities ahead at Christ's College Horsham and control handed back to Gary [always preferable to let the owner damage his own kit and plenty of Rugby poles around] for final approach & landing. 080,070,050 and finally 045 over the Railway and in to one of the Pitch's well clear of poles.

2 hours preparation, 2 hours flying ,30odd miles, 2 hours in the Pub. Does that constitute a 6 hour Long Jump!!.

So endeth our attempt for this year. We will be back in 2006, meantime we await with some trepidation the "award" that the Long Jump "Judge" will give us for our efforts. Good to learn that Anthony Smith will be able to join us at the awards - just hope he hasn't had a hand in selecting this years "prizes"

Gary Madelin and Jeff Lawton November 2005

With thanks to:

John Coney - retrieve and help with the flight on October 11th.
Mandy and Chris Madelin - retrieve and help with the flight on October 23rd.
Audrey Cushion and Dave Triggs for kind use of the two take off sites.
Alan Hall - help with the gusty launch out of Petersfield.


Mid Hants Balloon Club Flying Weekend at Headley Park, 10th & 11th July 2004.

The weather forecast was not encouraging with a forecast of heavy showers and sunny intervals but Saturday morning dawned with clear skies, light winds and an inversion, perfect conditions, only one balloon turned up and took the opportunity to fly. Horizon's new Cameron Z225, to the delight of the two balloon spotters that had turned out. By mid morning the predicted showers had started and members turned up with balloons to watch the rain, by mid afternoon a break in the weather saw an opportunity to at least get a balloon out of the bag and the old FBJ T&C 77 gave tethered rides to a few brave souls. Alan Hall then followed tethering his new "Castlepoint" Z90 but alas the wind picked up and the showers returned sending members to the bar to talk about ballooning and prevent any free flying.

Sunday again started with rain and low cloud to prevent any free flying. The afternoon was a bit brighter and Alan Hall again gave tethered rides to those who turned out to watch. The evening flyout only attracted the two rides balloons to take to the air. All in all not the best weekend for flying but thanks to the many members that turned out and to Headley Park for the invitation.


© Mid Hants Balloon Club 2007