Deborah day & Mike Scholes 211.6 miles
Tom Hilditch & Abi Bridge 125 miles
Nick Dunnington & Phil Hooper 117 miles
Dave Ling & Graham Holtam `109 miles
Graeme Church & Alex Court 107 miles
Rob Cross 92 miles ( Report )

The Great British Long Jump 2014. Robin Batchelor

“ BRILLIANT. Fantastic. I well and truly beat my target distance of 200 miles. The flight was my longest yet for both distance and duration, as well as my highest. Two more categories towards my gold badge. How exciting. We also commemorated Anthony Smith and his forth coming book, The Old Man of the Sea, by spending nearly half of the flight, about 100 miles, over the sea.”
This is how Debbie Day started her Long Jump report and with Mike Scholes alongside her in the basket, they won the 2014 Long Jump. Mike first won in 2002 with 231 miles, and again in 2007 with 182 miles. And now Debbie shows equal enthusiasm and is well on her way towards the BBAC Gold Badge.
Her report makes good reading. She describes launching on the west coast of Cornwall…”Then off we went like a rocket, 900 fpm. I glanced at the GPS and my heart went in to overdrive. We were tracking 336. On this heading, we would miss Wales. How could we miss an entire country? I was really worried as a crossing over water wasn’t planned. Mike was calm and said the wind will take us right as we climb. As we crossed the coast, our heading changed to 035.”
They eventually landed in Market Drayton after 6 hours 23 minutes with a helicopter watching over them. The full report is on the Long Jump website.
Showing even more enthusiasm at the Long Jump prize giving lunch was Tom Hilditch who flew with Abi Bridge and together they managed 125 miles in 9 hours and reached 10,000 feet along the way. The picture of their basket loaded with tanks makes me wonder where they stood. Their report is a good long one and describes their adventure well….
“I had ambitious plans to make a stylish and adventurous flight. This plan to compete this year first came about at the International Youth Camp in August. I suggested to Abi Bridge about doing the flight together, not only is she a good friend, but more importantly we had a good rapport in the basket. I felt to have a couple of relative youngsters competing against the veteran’s of GBLJ would be something if we were to do well. Also, it allowed me take advantage of her dad’s 105!

David Bareford then agreed to me borrowing 4 titanium tanks off him, though when I returned them he informed me that he only lent them so that I would have to compete in a grand prix next year! Further to that, Tony Jay’s offer of a Titanium tank, I felt I’d have more than enough lift to supplement them with enough of Richard’s V30s and the tanks Ian Bridge had to allow us to fly for a good few hours.

Consulting air charts I had plans to fly from somewhere in south west Wales to either somewhere as close to East Anglia as possible on a westerly, or if more of a southerly element heading up to somewhere in Yorkshire. I figured to have a good chance at winning I’d need to make a flight of two to three hundred miles. Unfortunately ambition and reality wouldn’t see eye to eye.”

Nick Dunnington flew 117 miles on his own and then joined up with Phil Hooper in a bigger balloon for another flight to see if they could fly further – they managed 110 miles. Both have written reports and their enjoyment shines through…” We took off at 8:15am and went straight up to 2,500ft to see what speed and direction we had. We soon reached 22kts and were heading in a NNE direction, which was perfect. Even though I had done a load calculation, I did have to keep looking up to check the temp flag every now and then for my own peace of mind. The cloud base was at around 2,700ft, so we sat comfortably at 2,600ft and picked up to 25kts – perfect!

Passing over Taunton and crossing the M5, we started to look at the air map (whilst enjoying a ham sandwich and some mini cheddars) and figured that we would just cross into Bristol’s zone. The main thing that had put me off from doing a Long Jump before was the whole airspace thing, but when you actually look at the map properly and work things out, it’s not as scary at it seems. We had our radio on Bristol’s frequency anyway, and we could hear that they were actually really busy for a Sunday morning. With our fingers crossed we put in a call to them, and they cleared us to pass through the Eastern edge of their zone, crossing over their centre line not above 2,000ft. Excellent – they just asked to let them know when we were at certain areas.”

Dave Ling and Graham Holtam managed 109 miles from Hixon Airfield to N. Yorks and decided to land with plenty of fuel and daylight remaining because they were heading straight for Fylingdales danger area.

I enjoyed the job descriptions in Graeme Church’s basket …. P1 – Alex Court, P2 – Graeme Church, P3 – Nichola Roskell ( Navigator & Catering). They obviously had things sorted and Alex flew 4 hours 35 minutes to cover 107 miles. You can guess how hard he worked when you learn the balloon is called ‘The Great Descender’. Starting with just 7 hours logged as P1, Alex increased his total by 65%. His Father Dave drove the retrieve and co-wrote the report with the conclusion…” Great Flight, Great Fun.”
It was good to see Rob Cross enter for his fourth time – the best being 150 miles from The Black Horse to lLanelli. This time he did 97 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes and shared pictures of Longleat House, The White Horse and Savernake Forest. “It was great to be long-jumping again after a break of 8 years. Most of the joy was flying in a new area. All I usually see when travelling to Devon is the view from the M4/M5. For once I got to see the best bits.”
I have met Andy and Bridgett Collett ballooning at Bristol and the London Sky Orchestra flight, but I really got to know them through their Facebook entries throughout The Queen’s Cup race in 2013. They certainly enjoy their ballooning and along with son Spencer, they even inspired the farmer’s wife to fire up SKYPE so her sons away at university could watch them launch!
They thanked Matt Cooper for retrieving, and all the teams are generous with their thanks to their crews and for advice from fellow pilots. So all in all, a good year with respectable ambitious flights ending safely with a feeling of satisfaction much greater than that felt after more regular flights.
Well done to all teams and remember you can read their reports and enjoy their pictures on www.thelongjump.com