PRESIDENTS REPORT 1998

Membership

     At the end of 1997 membership was 15, however, I am pleased to report the membership at the end of 1998 has increased to 30 albeit 16 of these were of Overseas status by the end of the year. There was a problem processing the membership subscriptions in 1998 and since we are now in a period of economical austerity I am proposing at the AGM that the subs for 1998 and 1999 are combined into a single payment (2 for 1) to resolve the problem. Whilst the membership includes 11 pilots only two of them are readily available for events in Hong Kong so I would urge the other pilots to revalidate their licences in order to utilise the clubs equipment and enjoy other events. Without pilots it is difficult to fly our balloons!

Sponsors

     Cathay: The marketing department within Cathay has undergone numerous changes in the past 18 months and with each change I have negotiated for the optimum use of G-CXCX. It has not been easy but I think we now have a more stable relationship with each other and know where we stand. At one point the balloon was about to be written out of the marketing plan! Whilst not offering the level of sponsorship at overseas events that the Club has seen in the past, it has been possible, by strategic selection of the events, to provide some reasonably cheap ballooning in delightful surroundings and by winning the odd prize, the costs were minimal. I now have agreement in principle that whenever we fly the CX balloon at overseas events then Cathay will provide up to 3 FOC tickets in EY upgradeable space available to C class. The intent of this concession is to enable more non-Cathay HKBAC members to participate in overseas events.

     Shell: We still continue to have good relations with Shell although they are not really interested in operating their balloon outside of Hong Kong except for mainland China where we do not receive any invitations. They were keen to have their balloon tethered whenever asked. Unfortunately one of the main tether events of the year, at the Tamar Parade Square ground turned out to be sponsored by Mobil who did not relish the idea of a Shell balloon flying at their event!

     Coca-Cola: I have made several attempts to rekindle the relationship with Swire - Coca Cola in order to rebuild their envelope or persuade them to purchase a new G-COKE balloon. I have nothing concrete to report at present and will make fresh attempts in 1999 as the Coca Cola team were a firm favourite for tethers within Hong Kong.

     Ferrari: Peter Mills has shipped this balloon to New Zealand, having purchased it from Italian Motors in 1997.

     New Sponsors: With the demise of several sponsored balloons I thought it was about time we found a new sponsor willing to purchase a balloon. I have made strenuous efforts to convince HSBC Bank, the Hong Kong Tourist Association, Fidelity and others to purchase a balloon. In fact the HKTA has approached me about 5 times this year to use a balloon at one of their events, (usually the week before!) They would appear to be perfect candidates for a hot air balloon but I cannot seem to reach/convince the right person despite the beautiful graphic I organised. However, after some chaos attempting to acquire a balloon for a Tamar event for the HKTA, I am pleased to say that a new Hong Kong charity - Camp Quality - is very likely to purchase a new Cameron N105 with a handicapped basket.

Social

     We donít seem to have been very sociable this year, well not in Hong Kong anyway! I would propose that someone takes on the mantle of Social Secretary and attempts to organise something every 6-8 weeks. I have negotiated with the manager of  the Aviation Club for any HKBAC member to use the bar and restaurant facilities. Cash chits can be purchased at the bar provided the HKBAC member's name is on the list that I have provided the Aviation Club with. Another idea would be to meet at club members homes to show the latest video activities and enjoy supper.

Club Balloon

     G-GOCX has now been re-registered from Cathay Pacific Airways for use as a club balloon. The lettering identifying it as a Cathay balloon has been removed and some small repairs have been carried out to the envelope. The basket and burner has been overhauled and it now has a valid C of A. I am researching the insurance aspects of operating the balloon at specified meets and for tethers in Hong Kong. The only major obstacle to utilising this balloon overseas is the shipping aspect, which I do not consider insurmountable! We hope to utilise the balloon at Canberra in March.

1998 Events

     G-CXCX:

     G-SHFL:

    In addition we assisted the Aerial Display Company to tether the Michelin Man special shape and their N105 Michelin balloon at the Heliport site near the Convention Centre and supplied logistic support and crew for the Camp Quality balloon from Balloon Aloft to tether at the Baptist Assembly in Fanling. In April Richard and Mikey flew up to Koga - Japan and borrowed the local town balloon for the Koga Festival.

     In summary, an excellent year's list of achievements for the few that were able to make the effort with the limited balloons and sponsorship.

Pilots

     The basis of most of the sponsored balloons we operate in Hong Kong is that the Club will invariably be able to tether the balloon for the sponsor by supplying crew and logistic support. The logistical arrangements required are not easy but they are made almost impossible if we do not have a pilot available for the venue. One of our regular annual tethers was cancelled this year for that very reason, despite the various attempts I made to fly a pilot in from Australia and UK. In my opening paragraph I urged existing pilots to reacquaint themselves with Aerostats so that we could once again use their skills. I will also propose at the AGM that we utilise some of the club funds to assist members to obtain a balloon licence. Naturally my proposal will be open for discussion, but the broad aim will be to utilise meets such as the Canberra Festival to train another pilot so that they can then go onto obtain the necessary licence. It is not envisaged 100% subsidies but by suitable assistance I hope to have the club balloon more available at selected venues.

HKBAC Homepage

     At no cost to the club and thanks to the HTML cyber skills of Mikey we have had a HKBAC homepage running for most of 1998 and it features the first Ballooning Ring plus many pictures from the past. We do try to keep the site current so you can always check in for the latest news and list of events around the world. Mikey would be pleased to receive feedback and contributions for the page. On a similar subject email is by far the easiest means to communicate with members, so let me know if your email address changes or if you receive something from me but cannot open it.

Storage

     The Aviation Club continues to use its lease at Kai Tak and we continue to rent a small part of what is probably the oldest building on Kai Tak, an ex-RAF Nissen hut which in Hong Kong's property scene has to rate as a Grade A listed building! We will no doubt have to move one day so members might bear that in mind should they happen to see suitable premises.

Thanks

     To everyone who's given up their free time to crew at tethers this year and to do all the other jobs that needed doing, in particular Nigel for putting up with all my "good ideas", assorted thoughts and assistance to keep the Club running. Best wishes to Madelaine and Julia who returned to the UK after many productive years in the Club. In Julia we have lost our reliable resident Tether Pilot, however, she never fails to respond promptly to my email and I'm sure she will fly for us again. Finally, thank you to my Crew Chief, File Retriever and Balloon Packer, Sheila , for her understanding of my passion in ballooning!

With best wishes for light airs and happy landings in 1999.

Richard Parry

President

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