A bit about me
I'm the guy who got into Ballooning to have a Cloudhopper. In 1983 I went to an Easter Balloon Meet in Great Missenden Bucks.and saw Chris Dunkley flying away in one and the seed was sewn. Being of an Aeronautical / Mechanical background , I've always appreciated good design and manufacturing and so the quality of the finish and the way these things fly really fired me up.I qualified as a pilot in 2003 and then set about finding the money and purchasing my first hopper .First ever chance to fly one occurred at a winter's balloon festival in Mauterndorf Austria when I grabbed the opportunity to fly G-IMAN a Colt 31 Skychariot.
Despite an initial set back when on my first flight when I ran out of fuel (after only 20mins), I wasn't put off and was hooked. It took until 2005 to get my kit together , purchasing a second hand 1980's vintage Colt 31
G-BSDV, combining it with a brand new Lindstrand mark 2 bottom end. I then started to learn to fly hoppers , and after some 40 hours , upgraded her to a brand new envelope, G-UHOP which is a lightweight Ultramagic H-31B (35,000 cubic feet) which weighs 15kilos less than the old Colt, and capable of flying in hotter conditions.
In 2004 I realised this great form of ballooning lacked any presence on the world wide web. Trying to redress this initially I set up a forum on Yahoogroups by which like minded individuals could compare notes and exchange views. I knew I was onto a winner when the first person to apply for membership was Don Piccard! Here was the Godfather of hopping, someone who in the 60's had sat on a tank and flown a hopper- how could I refuse ?
Shortly after this I added a Newsletter aimed at encouraging more people into the form of flying , keeping owners up to date on technical developments, event news and shared experiences. After a while it became Bi-monthly and whenever content allows it is now done monthly. Next logical idea for an enthusiastic idiot was to try and compose a website and so was born in 2005, trying to compliment a sister site in the USA hosted by John Ninomiya, mine having a definite slant towards all things European.
Bringing us up to date, what you see here is the second derivitive of the website , with more emphasis on utilising all the modern media tools
(such as Facebook), to project the information to the widest possible audience and yet with me retaining control and therefore able to update more frequently.