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Mel Kirby, author and collator of Balloons and Airships of the World, Edition 4 writes:

"I saw my first hot air balloon in 1966 at the Woodford Air show, and though only five years old I was absolutely hooked by it.

The first meets that I attended were in the seventies at Cirencester Park, and over the last twenty years I have been attending meets all over the world. I think a lot of spotters start out photographing the balloons and then progress to be balloon pilots, I know over fifty pilots who are spotters, some of them well know in the ballooning circles.

The reason that I first brought out my book was because there hadn't been one since Pete Bish's book over twenty years ago, and with having well over 4,000 photos of balloons that I had seen and no where to put the info, that's what made my mind up. I would estimate that there is in the region of 1,000 balloon spotters in the UK, and there are various publications that particularly cater for them such as LAAS(Aviation Enthusiasts Society) or Air Britain News, the latter is the publication that I compile the ballooning section for. We have over 5,000 members, but not all of them are into balloons. I have sold all of my latest edition of Balloons and Airships of the world, but intend doing a new one next year (2007) in conjunction with Air Britain."

Balloons and Airships of the World is a loose-leaf book, ideally formated for spotters to highlight or underline all the balloons they have seen. Mel also has produced an accompanying CD of balloon photos with the intention to produce a CD with a photograph of every G-registered balloon that has ever been built.

If you have any balloon spotting related questions for Mel please contact him via