4th April 2022
After the disappointment of having to postpone their flight for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Debbie & Mike were looking forward to finally flying across the Atlantic this summer.
Unfortunately, they have had to postpone the flight again this year until Summer 2023.
During the second half of 2021, Mike was unwell. He had a major operation in January this year. Although the operation was successful and his rehab is going well, he will not be fit enough in time to do the flight this year.
Obviously, this is a huge disappointment, but they want to make sure they are both fully fit for the crossing. This flight delay has made them even more determined to make it happen next summer.
20th to 26th September 2021
Last week Debbie & Mike flew 4 gas balloon flights from Ballonstartplatz, Gladbeck, Germany with renowned German balloon pilot, Wilhelm Eimers. Willi has flown more than 1400 gas balloon flights and has won the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett 4 times.
They flew 23 hours 45 minutes in total. The flights were as follows -
Gladbeck to Braine-le-Comte, Belgium (SW of Brussels) - 10 hours 15 minutes
Gladbeck to Altendorf - 4 hours 25 minutes
Gladbeck to Sendenhorst - 4 hours 10 minutes
Gladbeck to Bösensell, Germany (West of Münster) - 5 hours
Substantial parts of the flights were at night in order that they got night flying experience.
Kevin Stass (Flight Director for the Transatlantic Challenge flight) flew as a passenger with them on 3 of these flights.
Debbie & Mike were honoured to have Russian balloon pilot, Leonid Tiukhtyaev joining them with his friend Ekaterina Radaeva for the flight to Sendenhorst. Leonid flew across the Pacific with American balloonist Troy Bradley in January 2015.
Pictures from these flights can bee seen on our Gallery page.
30th June 2021
After much deliberation, Debbie & Mike have reluctantly decided to postpone their Transatlantic Balloon Challenge flight until Summer 2022. This is mostly related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation. Covid-19 is still not under control and although many adults, including Debbie & Mike, have received both vaccinations, the infection rate of the Delta variant in the UK is increasing. Many European countries and Canada have banned UK residents from entry or require quarantine, making the situation untenable.
They have had moral concerns for a while about making the flight while there are many people suffering from Covid-19 in countries where they may land and Canada (where they will launch from). They feel that it is not appropriate to fly this year.
The decision to postpone was all the more difficult to make, in that their preparation for the flight has been going very well. With certification and acceptance flying complete, the balloon and equipment were all ready to be shipped to Canada.
Debbie & Mike would like to thank all their corporate and individual benefactors and social media followers for their continued support.
13th June 2021
Debbie and Mike are still working hard in preparation for their Transatlantic flight.
Last Sunday (13th June) Debbie flew solo in her lightweight Ultramagic 90 hot-air balloon to a height of 23,180 ft. This is the highest recorded flight by a woman in this balloon class at 1.5 % higher than the British record. Unfortunately, the record needed to be broken by 3% to be counted officially.
However, Debbie said she was thrilled at her achievement. The flight, over the Worcestershire countryside, lasted an hour. At the top of the climb, it was -30ºC in clear blue skies. She was wearing clothing that she will wear on the Transatlantic flight. "I felt nice and warm up there!" she said.
You can see more pictures of this flight on our Gallery page.
27th/28th November 2020
On Friday 27th November G-ZOZO took to the air for the first time. This balloon is the first of its type. The gas cell can use either helium (when flown as a Rozier) or hydrogen (when flown as a pure gas balloon). It, therefore, needed a test flight for certification purposes. Flown as a pure gas balloon, filled with hydrogen, it was piloted by Benni Eimers with Willi Eimers as co-pilot. Both are world renowned, experienced balloon pilots and qualified to conduct test flights.
The balloon launched from Gladbeck in Germany at 1412 local and landed at Gahlen, south of Schermbeck at 1552 local. The flight duration was 1 hour & 40 minutes. Distance travelled was 16 kms. The maximum altitude flown was 6,000 feet.
On Saturday 28th November Debbie & Mike flew the balloon for the first time. As per the Test Flight it was flown as a pure gas balloon.
The balloon launched from Gladbeck at 1245 local and landed at Sankt Hubert, northeast of Kempen, at 1516 local. The flight duration was 3 hours & 31 minutes and distance travelled was 48 kms. The maximum altitude flown was 4,200 feet.
After the flight Debbie commented that “the flight was fantastic and the balloon was very stable”.
When Debbie & Mike fly across the Atlantic next summer a warm air cone will be fitted to the gas cell under the skirt. The cone will extend down to the burner frame and the air in it will be kept at a constant temperature so keeping the balloon in level flight. The load lines will then be hidden.
12th September 2020
Longleat Drive-In Night Glow
Debbie & Mike took their hot-air balloon to the Longleat Safari Park and joined 35 other balloons to do the World’s first drive-in Night Glow. Usually, these glows in which the burners glow in time with music, attract 10,000 spectators but this year spectators had to stay in their cars because of Covid-19 restrictions. It was a great event, arranged and choreographed by Andrew Holly. Simon Ball, a friend of Deborah and Mike, has prepared a short video which we would like to share with you. Its the first edition and called Glow Your Own Way.
3rd June 2020
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Mike & Debbie have reluctantly decided to postpone their Transatlantic Balloon Challenge flight until next Summer.
The bad weather in Europe in January & February had already delayed their plans to test fly in Germany. By the time the weather had improved, the pandemic had taken hold.
They had hoped that they may have still been able to fly later this Summer. However, on reflection, they felt that a postponement until next year would be more prudent.
They still intend to launch from Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada sometime between Mid-June and early August 2021.
We would like to thank all our followers and suppliers for their continued support. We will keep you updated via our website and social media as plans for next Summer’s flight unfold.
29th March 2020
The Covid-19 situation has obviously disrupted the preparation for our flight. We will still continue to plan for a launch when conditions are safe. We will be carefully monitoring the situation as developments unfold and will post updates as, and when our plans evolve.
We would like to thank all our followers and suppliers for their continued support during this difficult time.
Debbie & Mike
16th November 2019
We are pleased to announce that Luc Trullemans will be in charge of meteorology for our flight. Luc is a highly accomplished meteorologist. Please see our Team Page for details of Luc’s outstanding contribution to aviation and sailing projects over the last 30 years.
Meteorology is critical to all balloon flying. Luc will study forecast conditions prior to the flight and advise Deborah & Mike when weather conditions for the launch and en route align. After launch, he will effectively "steer" the balloon by studying the dynamic and forecast atmospheric conditions and advise Deborah & Mike the most favourable altitudes at which to fly to direct them to a safe landing on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean.
14th October 2019
Deborah & Mike visited the Cameron Balloon and were shown the base of our double burner which had been handcrafted. It will soon have the coils fitted through which the propane will flow.
21st August 2019
Sandbags and Cordura padded bags for the radio and the transponder made by Claire at Zebedee Balloon Services.
4th August 2019
To increase the chances of survival should Deborah & Mike have to ditch, they had a very informative day at Andark Diving Centre, Swanwick. Organised by GASCO, it included lectures about the physiology of salt water survival. Once strapped into the capsule it was then submerged and then inverted. They had to push out the windows, release the harness and swim out.
They have been invited back to do some more training on breathing with micro cylinders and are really looking forward to this training.
21st June 2019
Civil Aviation Authority have agreed a suitable registration for the balloon G-ZOZO. Otherwise known as Golf-2020.
2nd June 2019
Deborah & Mike have announced that they have postponed the flight due to some operational issues. The main one being the cost of helium due to a world supply shortage. Deborah and Mike are now aiming for a mid June to an end of July 2020 launch.
The advantage of this postponement is that it will give them and their team more time to prepare for their adventurous flight.
12th May 2019
Deborah and Mike visited the Brabazon Hangar at Filton Aerodrome, Bristol for the first inflation test by Cameron Balloons of the newly completed Rozière balloon which will fly Deborah & Mike across the Atlantic.
The Brabazon Hangar was built in the late 1940s to house the large Bristol Brabazon, and later Lockheed Constellation and Boeing Stratocruiser aircraft.
It was chosen by Cameron Balloons as it was large enough to inflate the 77,000 cubic foot balloon indoors and thereby protect it from inclement weather.
The test went very well.
24th March 2019
British Balloon & Airship Club Members' Day & AGM.
In his closing speech, Don Cameron spoke of Deborah & Mike's flight and wished them all the very best of luck.
06th March 2019
Deborah and Mike took part in sea survival training at Horsea Island, off the northern shore of Portsmouth Harbour. They are used the facilities at the Royal Navy’s Phoenix Training group to learn what to do in case of an emergency ditching.
09th February 2019
Mike Tested of the sample insulation, a multilayer space blanket by Johnson Insulation to go inside the basket. The blanket contains two layers of bubble wrap. Assisted by Merv Huggett and Peter Browne. Successfully tested the sample to 200hpa (40,000 feet) using a vacuum chamber lent by Edwards Vaccuum of Burgess Hill.
4th February 2019
Our balloon envelope is being made from carbon coated fabric that can hold hydrogen as well as helium. So, after our transatlantic flight, the lower cone, burner and tanks are removed and the balloon flown as a gas balloon using much cheaper hydrogen. We are plan to fly across Europe from Germany. The envelope is based on the successful Cameron GB1000 that won the 2018 Gordon Bennett Cup gas balloon race.
20th August 2018
Deborah and Mike place the order for their Transatlantic Rozière balloon with world famous balloon manufacturer, Don Cameron of Cameron Balloons in Bristol.
Cameron Balloons have been making balloons since 1967. some of them have been flown in world record breaking flights, including those flown by Don himself.
16th - 18th August 2018
Deborah's first training flights in a gas balloon with experienced German pilot Wilhelm Eimers.
Willi has won the Gordon Bennett Cup (Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett) 4 times - in 1995, 1996, 2000 & 2014.