As a diversion to the normal hot air and Rozier balloon exploits, Janet will present her experiences in long distance competitive gas ballooning. At the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race in 2009 Janet and Ann Rich broke the female duration world record flying for almost 70 hours, covering 1,100 kms from Geneva to Madrid. The gas used was hydrogen and the balloon was a traditional "old" gas balloon.

The presentation will include an illustrated account of this flight and footage of an F18 Spanish military sent to fly round the balloon twice in recognition of the record.

About the speaker: Dr Janet Folkes, Lecturer, Materials, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering, University of Nottingham

Educated at the University of Wales and Imperial College, Dr Janet Folkes holds a PhD in Metallurgy specialising in Laser Surface Treatment of Titanium alloys. She has worked in Academia as well as in the Aerospace Industry as a laser scientist. As a result of her research work for the Nissan Motor Company, she holds two Japanese patents on the hardening of titanium. At Lindstrand Balloons, she put her materials’ expertise to the test in work on the Virgin Global Flyer for the UK billionaire, Richard Branson, and was involved not only in the material development, joining and quality control but also in the flight control centre. Her work on airships includes consultancy work for the Cargolifter envelope fabric, publication of a paper on Stratospheric Airships and a UK patent for removal of Tedlar in Airship applications. Her flying interests have gained her over 46 world records in ballooning and the Silver Medal of the Royal Aero Club. As an international competitor in gas ballooning, Janet won the Americas Challenge 2005 gas balloon race with Bill Arras flying just under 1,500 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Canada. She also holds a private pilot’s licence for helicopters, hang gliders and paragliders and, as an avid skydiver, she has jumped from 30,000ft (almost 10,000m!).

Royal Aeronautical Society
24 February 2010