And the winner is …

Just 5 teams entered the Long Jump this year, 7 last year, 6 in 2015 and 7 in 2014. The 2013 Queen’s Cup attracted 13 teams and was deemed a great success. So when I look back at the numbers of entrants in the past, 20 and more, I ponder over how to encourage more pilots to enjoy the challenge of planning a long flight during October. Ideas please ?
Out with the calculator and the 5 teams flew a combined distance of 634 miles taking a combined time of 25 hours 35 minutes on 4 different October days. 1,650 litres of propane were consumed.

I hope other pilots will be inspired by Alex Court’s story of building his own balloon at Sackville in just 25 days after Tim Wilkinson persuaded him to build a 90 rather than a tiny 14,000 cu ft hopper. It passed its inspection and they flew a 5 hour Long Jump. Next year he will surely beat this year’s 25 mile distance?

Last year was Adrian Brown’s first Long Jump and he flew 99 miles in 4 hours 2 minutes. This year he flew 101 miles in 4 hours 40 minutes so we confidently predict he will fly 103 miles in about 5 hours next year! We enjoyed his well-illustrated report last year featuring Helen’s delicious muffins and this year is no different except his maximum height was all the up there at 10,000 feet!

Thomas Lee and David Medcalf went that much higher to 11,000 ft and flew 103 miles in 5 hours 40 minutes. Their report details how they obeyed air space restrictions without which they would have flown much further. They end by announcing next year’s ambitious plans… bigger balloon, more fuel, better organised, etc etc.

There’s something about gas balloonists and Will Wood celebrated his 141 mile Long Jump flight by posting a very entertaining video on the internet showing him discharging ballast from his hot air balloon ( mostly half eaten paninis). He did this for 3 hours 56 minutes and found speeds of 44 knots but the best bit is driving miles on his own to the launch site, inflating with just the camp site owner to help ( no crown line) and then going all the way back there next day to collect the empty van. Proper youthful enthusiasm!

Mike Scholes asked me if Debbie’s flight of 264 miles was the furthest flown by a woman in the Long Jump? The answer’s YES. They flew together for 6 hours 19 minutes, saw the altimeter read 12,466 feet and briefly enjoyed 42 mph. Debbie confesses she wanted to beat Dave Bareford’s winning distance of 260 miles last year. She succeeded. She had already made a flight of 103 miles earlier in the month, and then had a scheduled back operation which put her out of action for 2 weeks. I can see the smile on her face as she writes the last line in her report… “ Long distance flights are brilliant – the furthest we’d flown in a balloon and the fastest!”

Huge congratulations to these plucky pilots who consistently demonstrate adnirable determination against all odds.
They will polish the splendid silver trophy with pride and during the next 12 months I suspect they will be talking about 300 miles…. Remember – gas balloons are allowed 🙂

You can read the reports HERE.

Here is Will Wood’s hilarious video of his Long Jump LINK

Congratulations to all – see you next year.
G.B.L.J Founder and Judge.

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