February 2021 Updates, Online Ground School

Allie has been appointed by the BWPA (British Women Pilots' Association) to represent to GAAC (General Aviation Awareness Council). To quote from Zooming Into Ground School - General Aviation Awareness Council (gaac.org.uk): "New GAAC Board Member Allie Dunnington, representing the British Women Pilots' Association (BWPA), explains the success of her weekly ONLINE GROUND SCHOOL sessions in a new article published on the GAAC website.

"Almost a year since everyone was pushed towards online meetings, and with many students grounded for much of that time, Zoom has become a popular medium for online classes and has the benefit of bringing together students (and others looking to 'brush up' their knowledge) from around the world. It seems likely now, as we (hopefully) Zoom out of Lockdown, that online classes will become an invaluable part to studying towards a PPL."

Full article here: Inspiration In Aviation

Phil has recently been reappointed as the DfT's General Aviation Advocate and has been selected to join the Airspace Strategy Board.

FlyDOO Cafe Live Show

Allie was invited to join the #FlyDOO Cafe Live Show on Thursday the 3th of December to talk about her new female world-record of having flown a balloon in 103 countries. The interview was hosted by Leandro Corradini founder of https://www.flydoo.fun. Please check out his exciting website which features many new ultra-light balloon designs and other interesting stories to assist you to get into ballooning.

Then pour yourself a glass or cuppa, sit back, relax and tune into the live interview by following this link:
Allie talks about her experiences of flying in difficult countries such as Kosovo, Honduras and Lesotho, remote islands such as Cuba and Iceland, in freezing temperatures in Mongolia or trying to fly in some of the world's smallest countries such as San Marino and Andorra. The interview features a variety of photos and video clips whilst offering some travel tips at the end. We hope you do enjoy it!


Phil and Allie were invited by the Tourism Ministry of Mauritania and the British Embassy in Nouakchott to conduct a recce around the northern part of the country. The team flew out on Air France taking their light-weight solo hopper Cameron 31, G-CIPD. With the kind support of Laura Parker (a UN human-rights professional) and her fellow expat and Mauritanian friends, a small expedition was organised taking the team into the Adrar mountains and exploring the famous 'Eye of Africa'(Guelb).

Assessing the terrain for potential balloon flights, monitoring the meteorological conditions and evaluating the potential for eco-friendly tourism, the Director of Tourism invited the group including Ms Parker and the British Ambassador, Simon Boydon, to share their ideas, suggestions and proposals for the future.

Mauritania is a comparatively unknown country for most tourists and therefore offers the intrepid traveller the chance to explore a new destination with plenty of unbeaten tracks. From endless white beaches along the western shores, to the mountains of the Adrar, into wide, empty deserts to the north-east and lush marshlands in the South: Mauritania has a variety of landscapes, cultures, ethnic groups and traditions whilst being one of the central countries along the ancient trades routes through the Sahara. Do watch this space as there might be an opportunity to join a trip to this fascinating country in the future!

There is also a short film available here.

Update, September 2020

Due to Covid, sadly there wasn't much travelling this season nor commercial ballooning. But the team has been busy nevertheless.

Here is the news:

Phil: Now heavily involved in UK Government General Aviation policy and practice, Phil is in weekly on-line meetings with both the CAA and Department for Transport.

Allie: Allie has been fairly busy with inspection work and was pleased to receive her new EASA Part 66 engineering licence, as has Phil. As soon as lockdown was lifted she used the rare opportunity to set up a flight in the hopper to cross Bristol International Airport. Read her story in our articles section.

We are the new ambassadors for the DBI Digitool, a brilliant piece of flying kit - a super small and lightweight combined GPS, altimeter and tracking tool. See more at di3.com or contact us for more information.

The team also is very pleased to announce the new partnership with the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club operating a Cameron Z-105 G-GCCC for the club over the coming years and matches. Three free flights were made so far, two from the cricket grounds itself and one participating in this year's Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. See photos in the picture section.

Another new balloon joined the fleet: G-CLPD which is a Cameron S-50 with a split section in the middle. The balloon is EASA-certified and will hopefully be used in the future for more exotic and adventurous travels.

Betty the Beech in the meantime is in safe hands but still undergoing some maintenance. All seriously delayed due to supply problems.

A long-overdue visit to Germany was made in August taking Allie's sister for her first flight and reconnecting with friends and family.

Returning to Burma is sadly highly unlikely so Allie is engaging actively with committee meeting with the BWPA and other Bristol partnership organizations whilst Phil continues his aviation and BBAC duties and helps to re-boost the economy with frequent visits to Bristol's best pub, the Nova Scotia!

Transport Secretary Announces General Aviation Advocate, September 2019

Phil Dunnington, the first balloon pilot to cross the North West Arctic Passage, is announced as the Department for Transport's General Aviation Advocate. Mr Dunnington will represent the general aviation sector and advise Government on relevant policies from the industry.

Click here for full details.


We have successfully completed another epic journey in our Beech 18 and the balloon:

  • 89.2 hours of flying time
  • 6 weeks of travelling
  • 13,380 nautical miles covered
  • 12 countries entered, many more overflown
  • world record of 117 for Phil and 88 for Allie

Highlights included a low cruise over the Hudson river in New York and a fly past the Statue of Liberty; crossing vast stretches of the Caribbean; an overwhelming welcome in Cuba and the first ever free flights in a hot air balloon in Vinales/Cuba; ballooning in Belize and Panama; overflying Honduras and Nicaragua with its active volcanos; a stop over in San Salvador; crossing Mexico and vast stretches of the US including Monument valley and the Grand Canyon. See photos.

The Beech has performed extremely well without any technical or mechanical problems.

For the full record of this unprecedented journey please see our blog: www.onthebeech.blogspot.co.uk

A video of highlights is at https://vimeo.com/270582858

She has become famous with plenty of articles and photos published in the following aeroplane magazines:

  • Flyer
  • Aeroplane Monthly
  • Air Britain
  • Propliner
  • Air Classics
  • Aviation World
  • Aerostat
  • British Women Pilots' Association

Click to see some of the articles.

There is a 1/72 scale replica of our Beech 18 as a die-cast desk-top model available from http://www.oxforddiecast.co.uk/

On The Beech

Above photo by Jemma Phillips from Doxey Creative Photography
Timothy Allen's photo of the Beech crossing Greenland
Beech and balloon photo by Anne Herbert

Flying Bristol to Toronto by the backroads, July 2017...

Back in the 1990s the germ of an idea embedded itself in my mind. I had already set out in pursuit of the most countries it is possible to fly a balloon in, and I had by then logged over 50. Challenges of access in the remoter locations seemed an obvious barrier and I decided that the perfect combination would be a venerable (1930s-designed) Beech 18 twin-engined aeroplane with a lightweight balloon aboard. In 2014 I found a Beech for sale and, with the help of my mother's legacy, bought G-BKGM, built for the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigation trainer in 1952.

click to read full article...

Follow our progress

Our blog: http://onthebeech.blogspot.co.uk

Position tracker:http://yb.tl/prepare2go1

Route plan:

Short history of the Beechcraft

Built at Beechcraft Inc. factory in Wichita, Kansas, USA in 1952 for the Royal Canadian Air Force our aeroplane served for nearly a decade as a trainer for up to six navigators using traditional star- and sun-shots and basic radio aids.

Sold onto the Canadian civilian market as a survey aircraft it became registered CF-SUQ at the start of a fascinating world-wide career undertaking photogrammetric and mapping tasks. Its final project was based at Dar-el-Beida in Algeria before a ferry flight on 4 August 1981 towards its home country. That flight was abruptly terminated at Prestwick, Scotland when the owners ran out of funds and, after a period of storage she took up a new career delivering newspapers throughout the British Isles.

Her final more restful period with Anthony Hutton and subsequently Andy Foan on the UK airshow circuit in various representative military colour schemes ended in February 2015 in mock-1930s style as a link aeroplane in a BBC TV series titled 'Prized Apart'.

Now owned privately by Phil & Allie Dunnington as G-BKGM and in the colours of their company, Bristol Airways Ltd.

Owners of balloon and aircraft: Phil and Allie Dunnington, Bristol UK
Company: Gone-with-the-Wind Ltd. / Bristol Airways Ltd.
Website: www.gonewiththewind.uk.com
Blog: onthebeech.blogspot.co.uk

The aircraft: Beech 18
Registration: G-BKGM
Name: 'Betty the Beech'
Built: 1952, Witchita, KA., USA
Hours flown: 11,000
Pilots: John Herbert, SA and others

The balloon: Cameron O-56 with lightweight folding basket
Registration: G-DKGM
Built: 2017, Bristol, UK
Hours flown: 4
Pilots: Allie and Phil Dunnington

Maintenance Organisation: RGV Aviation, Gloucestershire Airport, Staverton, UK
Insurer: Hayward Aviation Ltd, London

1st sector: Bristol-Wick-Egilstadir and Isafjordur/Iceland - Kulusuk, Narsarsuaq, Nuuk/Greenland - Qikiqtarjuaq, Pangnirtung, Iqualuit, Schefferville, Sorel, Toronto/Canada
2nd sector planned for March/April 2018: Edenvale - Post Mills/Vermont US - New York - South America - Central America - Cuba-Caribbean

Click here to see a Flying In Ireland article about the project.

Click here to see a Propliner article about G-BKGM, by Pete Bish.


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