15 Apr 2010 00:00:00.000
University of Nottingham engineer and record breaking balloonist Dr Janet Folkes has been presented with the British Balloon and Airship Club’s (BBAC) coveted Charles Green Salver for exceptional achievement. The award goes to Janet and her co-pilot Dr Ann Webb, from the University of Manchester, for breaking the women’s world duration record.
The salver was originally presented to Charles Green, the most famous British aeronaut of the nineteenth century, by a grateful passenger. The Green Salver is now the premier award of the BBAC — given only for exceptional flying achievements or services to ballooning. Previous recipients include Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson for the first Atlantic crossing by Hot Air Balloon, Andy Elson for the first flight over Mount Everest and Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard for the first Round The World Balloon Flight.
Dr Folkes said: “It is an amazing award and an amazing trophy. The salver itself is made of solid silver, has incredible detail on it and is engraved with a gas balloon. It is over 150 years old and was presented to Charles Green, one of the early pioneer British gas balloonists, by one of his passengers. Thinking about that — maybe I should encourage reviving that tradition in my passengers!”
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Last September Dr Folkes, a scientist in the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering at The University of Nottingham, and Dr Webb broke the female duration world record while competing in the 2009 Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett — a race established in 1905 where crews of two aim to fly their gas balloons as far as possible. They flew for 69 hours and 19 minutes beating the record set in 1995 and adding to Janet’s tally of 45 world records — all of which still stand today.
A video of the flight can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WOiagF2l8M
Lindsay Muir, from the BBAC said: “Women make up only 10 per cent of all balloon pilots. Janet and Ann’s flight set a new world record for gas balloons. Flying in Europe is not as easy as flying in North America — the race has to remain within Europe which meant that the winning pilots had to find an altitude which would swing them westwards from the launch site and into Spain. This is not an easy task but it was accomplished by Janet and Ann”.
Janet Folkes, who flies The University of Nottingham’s hot air balloon, has been involved in ballooning for over 25 years, initially flying hot-air balloons and as a competition observer, but more recently flying Roziere and gas balloons. She has competed in several Gordon Bennett and American Challenge gas balloon races winning the 10th America's Challenge gas balloon race in 2005 with her American co-pilot Bill Arras. They flew nearly 1,500 miles from New Mexico to Canada in 46 hours and 14 minutes giving her the British General distance and duration records by a large margin.
Her passion for flying does not stop there. She holds a private pilot’s licence for helicopters, hang gliders and paragliders and is an avid skydiver.
With a PhD in Metallurgy she put her expertise to the test at Lindstrand Balloons on the Virgin Global Flyer. While working for the UK billionaire, Richard Branson, not only was she involved in the material development, joining and quality control but also in the flight control centre. Her work on airships includes consultancy work for Cargolifter and the publication of a paper on the design structure of high altitude airships for Stratospheric Airships. She lectures in Aerospace manufacturing and is currently researching laser processing and aerospace applications in Europe's first state-of-the-art waterjet technologies centre. The £1.1m centre opened at The University of Nottingham in January 2007.
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Notes to editors
: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.