The BBAC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015
British Balloon & Airship Club
Hot air balloonists in the UK are fortunate to have an organisation called the British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) which looks after the ‘nitty gritty’ of ballooning. It does important work such as negotiating with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA); the National Farmers Union (NFU); the Country Land and Business Association (CLA and CLBA); and other bodies which affect our hobby/business.
As the BBAC is the foremost authority for ballooning in the UK, the CAA allows the BBAC a delegated authority to take control of many functions pertinent to ballooning, for example: the training and examination of student pilots; the drawing up of regulations affecting passenger flying; and the inspection and certification of hot air balloons.
The BBAC and the NFU are also fundamental in negotiating effective Codes of Conduct for Pilots and Landowners to follow and know what is expected of each party when a balloon lands on private property. Sometimes balloons are not welcome due to the type of crop or livestock on the farm, typically pig farms or high value stock such as racehorses, or a stud, and when these places are known – whether by a report from a pilot, or directly from a landowner themselves, then the site can be logged and plotted on a national database mapping system to which all balloonists have access. This enables the pilot to know exactly where the no-landing areas are, or areas over which caution must be exercised. This invaluable tool ensures that a non-local pilot will have exactly the same information as a local pilot and can therefore make informed decisions over choosing a suitable landing site.
The BBAC is run by volunteers, and draws its membership from people all over the world. In return, members benefit from having a dedicated website (www.bbac.org ) with a wide range of information, advice and forums; a reduced price on OS maps which can be overprinted with balloon specific information and airspace; access to the BBAC Crew Training Scheme and the BBAC Pilot Achievement Scheme; a wealth of experience in dealing with all the regulatory bodies as well as in general ballooning terms; an entitlement to use the BBAC/CAA negotiated Permissions and Exemptions; and also receive a bi-monthly glossy magazine called Aerostat.
Aerostat keeps the ballooning fraternity in touch with what is going on in the world with numerous articles on social and educational topics as well as news of balloon meets; new balloons in the UK; and classified advertisements.
A further publication (Pilots' Circular) is distributed to all BBAC member pilots and this focuses on technical developments, flying matters, airspace changes and regulation updates, etc.
Membership of the BBAC is open to anyone with an interest in balloons and lighter than air flight (not forgetting the airships there!) and currently costs from £35 per annum. Check out the extensive website for more information – www.bbac.org