Charles – CEO and Technical/Design Leader
From early years training (1968 – 73) with Hawker Siddeley Aviation near Chester and graduation from Salford University 1972, Charles began his aeronautical career as a structural design/stress engineer with them. Although his interest was aircraft design, his main activity was fixing problems/damage by providing solutions to keep the production line running.
He subsequently joined Airship Industries (AI) 1981 shortly after its first airship (SKS500-02) flew (28 Sep 1981) and was asked to fix a few design shortfalls as well as providing desired modifications. He then was asked to set up & run the Stress department to get SKS500 & 600 series airships type certified (achieved). After that he was asked to set up and lead another department for new airship developments. This was his scene, where he was instrumental in design and mock-up work towards AI winning the US Navy contract for a 30 day duration airship flying mid-ocean supporting their fleet – undertaken between fixing arising issues with airships in service.
During this time, he became a full member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (1987) and gained Chartered Engineer status (1988). After AI closed 1990, he was reengaged by Westinghouse to again set up and continue unfinished AI work. This involved completion of the US Navy airship design (then designated YEZ-2A) to a CDR level (achieved) followed by completion of S1000 type certification work, awarded late 1993. Westinghouse then ended the UK airship business.
Charles reverted to other aircraft work while developing his own airship ideas privately (1994 -98). He created new airship designs to overcome many issues not dealt with properly before. However, before able to launch business, he was invited to join CargoLifter in Germany, taken up end 1998.
It was an exciting project to work on but also a life changing experience. Charles was deeply involved: first assessing the CL160 airship proposal to transport outsized 160 tonne payloads point to point; helping staff to understand the issues; fixing problems to enable their Joey design to fly; helping to provide CL160 design solutions and then (after resigning 2000) working to enable the CL75 AirCrane proposal as an easier way to go. This involved getting a prototype designed, built & tested at a fraction of the CL160 costs (achieved). It was CL160 costs that later led to company closure mid 2002 (needing more than already spent to continue) for just a PDR level design.
Still inspired and by then realising how to produce airships able for serious aerial crane work, Charles started LTA Solutions Ltd to continue privately as an aircraft consultant working from home while producing designs for new omni-directional types instead. However, what was needed was a reliable business partner able to invest or get the finance for development.
Post CargoLifter this was impossible and still is difficult. Nonetheless, from stirrings in Canada 2007, Charles became a minor partner in new SkyLifter businesses from 2008 onwards and was responsible for further types designed, produced and flown. SkyLifter in the UK was renamed Luffships Ltd (LSL) 2018, which he took over to enable design/engineering services for new buoyant aircraft suiting purposes people need – still committed.
Paul – Director and Chief Engineer
Paul is an Aerospace Engineer with significant experience in buoyant, fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft gained from working for companies including: Safran, Airbus, Ultra Controls, Rolls Royce, BAe Systems, Lockheed Martin, Cobham, Eaton Fuel Systems, CargoLifter, Airship Industries and Skybrid Technologies. He is a working member of the RTCA for Aviation Procedures/Practices development.
Degreed in Electro-Mechanical engineering, he is familiar with: Electrical distribution systems, hydraulic systems, flight instrumentation, communications (including satellite uplinks), fuel systems, auto flight controls, engine monitoring systems, pneumatic and gas management systems.
He has considerable Certification expertise, familiar with: CS30T for buoyant aircraft, EASA CS25/ FAA CFR14 part 25 and 21, undertaking Test work to DO160F and DO178B, and Systems work to ARP4754 standards.
His Flight Test work embraces:
- A310 MRTT Luftwaffe air-to-air refuelling systems. 66 sorties for STC EASA approval.
- Light acrobatic aircraft (Hyperbipe) for development of Airborne Data Service (satcom).
- Tucano flight trials for RAF.
- Airships SK500 and SK600 in UK, Sentinel 1000 in USA, and CL75 AirCrane in Germany.
- VC10 Tanker for RAF for avionic systems (UK).
- B737 Airborne Data systems (Canada).
He also is familiar with Crash Investigation work by the AAIB and BEA on the AF447 and MH370 as part of the ICAO/IATA aircraft tracking task force.
Yvette – Company Secretary
Educated in France and England, Yvette graduated from Exeter University and joined Airship Industries (AI) providing a variety of commercial and military types across the world. She was production controller on 11 new builds in Europe, Asia Pacific and the USA before becoming technical assistant to Roger Munk (Technical Director) on numerous aviation, marine and car projects. She was co-manager of the Integrated Logistical Support team on the US Navy YEZ-2A programme with budget responsibility of $30m.
After leaving AI, she set up her own company working in e-commerce before moving back to her science roots in 2003. A senior associate member of the Royal College of Medicine, she is passionate about healthy ageing and works with a number of specialist exercise, nutrition and lifestyle experts.
An elected Area Leader for the Federation of Small Businesses in Cheshire & Merseyside, she is a member of various business and health related groups. Her Special Interest Group relates to Mental Health, particularly for Armed Forces personnel/Veterans and primary school children.
Yvette is a director and company secretary of the North West Fraud Forum. Set up in 2021 to inform and educate business owners and individuals, the group is chaired by an officer from the Police Regional Office Crime Unit and comprises other members from national security and forensic organisations.
A keen rugby supporter, she’s also found at Oulton Park & Donnington keen on end of race donuts!
Stuart –Aerostat and Fabric Structures Production Manager
From being the Owner/Director of Airborne Industries Ltd, Stuart is well versed in the manufacture of technical inflatable/aviation products for training, military, security and other applications.
Stuart currently sits on the Council of the Airship Association.
His company’s heritage leads back to Leabridge Engineering Ltd, a business originally producing barrage balloons during WWII, and his team have very broad experience in developing bespoke solutions for both defence and aerospace applications. The company offers a range of military systems that are in operation across the world. Stuart is also lead Consultant for Airborne Operations Ltd.
He has a wealth of knowledge in fabric materials and manufacturing techniques. He also can draw on extensive design and manufacture team support, several of whom have >30 years development experience of high quality Technical Inflatable Systems and Helium Aerostats. Stuart is a welcome player in Luffships management team, previously responsible for making our LS-LT18-1 aerostat.
Advisory and Business
Peter – Industrial Gases Adviser
Peter spent his entire working life with industrial gases, specialising in Helium Applications. He started in 1969 with Air Products, operating Helium liquefiers, developing large bulk liquid helium containers and supplying liquid helium to scientific and industrial establishments. From supplying it for the Goodyear Airship Europa he became interested in airships and joined the Airship Association.
Following several UK and Belgium managerial positions, he joined Linde in 1992 leading to further managerial positions within the organisation. He also worked with Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand on their “Around the World” balloon attempts.
He retired from Linde 2009 while holding the positions of Managing Director for Helison Marketing and Senior Business advisor for the International Helium Group. Today he provides consultancy on Helium matters and is an associate consultant for Spiritus Consulting Ltd, advisor to the Linde Group and for Lighter-than-air applications involving helium.
Peter was Chairman of the Airship Association 2010 to 2013.
Bruce – Special Buoyant Aircraft Projects Design Leader
Bruce is a well-qualified professional aeronautical engineer with considerable buoyant aircraft design/development experience from projects in four countries, respectively: Australia, Isle of Man (UK), Oregon (USA) and BC, Canada. He has been directly involved in more than 10 significant buoyant aircraft developments over several decades, as Engineering Manager or Chief Designer. In most of the projects he managed the design, prototype construction, ground testing and flight testing. His buoyant aircraft projects included:
1980-1990 SUNSHIP 6.7m (22 ft) solar powered demonstrator
Albatross RPMB 12.2m (40 ft) UAS, aerial work demonstration hybrid
US/LTA 138S 48.5m (159 ft) 6 seat commercial blimp (FAA TC AS2NM)
1991-2000 Advanced NR 61m (200 ft) 30 seater transport category airship
AHA Wasp RPB 11m (36 ft) UAS, commercial aerial work hybrid (2 off)
2001-2010 PropBike 7m (23 ft) diameter, man-powered sport balloon
AHA Wasp RPB/AF 12.2m (40 ft) UAS with GPS, for US Army
2010-2014 SkyMedia1 26.2m (86 ft) UAS, aerial advertising airship
SolarShip 11m 15.2m (50 ft) medical services hybrid, inflatable wing.
Bruce has agreed to develop his latest Patroller 3 buoyant aircraft design through Luffships with modifications to replace its propulsion system with H2 powered and electric drive propellers. He also is assisting Luffships with further developments in Canada.
John N – Aerodynamics and Flight Simulation Modelling Leader
Highly qualified, as a Mathematics graduate with honours and post graduate in aeronautics, fluid and structural mechanics from Imperial College, John is an experienced aerospace engineer and mathematician who has held Chief aerodynamicist/consultancy positions in both civil and military engineering companies/consultancies covering low subsonic to high supersonic Mach systems design and performance analysis. This includes airship developments undertaken by Airship Industries and the Advanced Airship Corporation, Isle of Man, UK
He thus has wide-ranged relevant experience in aircraft simulation modelling (including airships), novel concept design, control application and modelling validation via trials studies for aircraft entering commercial and military service.
John currently is supporting Luffships with simulation modelling of the LS-L5 design and organising wind tunnel (w/t) activities in support of type certification. His simulation work is scalable so that, after verification it can be used for the design of bigger types. It also will be used for autonomous flight.
John C – Aircraft Weight and Balance Officer
John is a highly experienced aeronautical engineer with deep knowledge of both mass properties management and LTA technology. He was responsible for the weights group at Airship Industries on the Skyship 500HL & 600, Sentinel 1000 & 5000 (Westinghouse Airship Industries – WAI) programmes, and later on the Cargolifter CL160. In addition to becoming one of the leading experts on airship mass properties he also gained significant knowledge about the development and operation of buoyant aircraft.
His career generally concerned mass properties, working on a wide variety of projects covering satellites, ships, ground vehicles but mainly fixed wing aircraft, including 14 years at Airbus leading the overall aircraft mass properties teams on all European sites plus India. This involved managing the mass properties of all commercial aircraft programmes, deriving mass properties data for loads, performance, etc., supporting commercial teams and producing operational data (WBM).
Outside of mass properties, John was Risk Manager for Airbus Engineering working with the Engineering Leadership Team to identify and launch robust mitigation for potentially critical items.
Joanne – Ground Operations Manager
Graduated 1994 in Business and Finance, Joanne initially worked for Sunderland City Council as a Trainee Manager (Personnel and Payroll) and the Falcon Hotel, Bridgnorth, Shropshire (her family hometown) as the Assistant Manager. However, in 1999 she took to being a buoyant aircraft Groundcrew team member working for the Virgin Airship and Balloon company based in nearby Telford.
This was a welcome break from desk work. She followed up working for CargoLifter 2000-2 as a Senior Groundcrew and Test Technician in Germany and Skycruiser 2002-3 in Switzerland, then returning to Bridgnorth. It was timely from collapse of the airship industry due to drones taking over many market opportunities but determined to pursue her career.
Joanne took work 2003-9 with EDS, Telford, Shropshire, pursuing numerous activities as: Logistics Project Co-ordinator for delivery of IT equipment; Resource Manager as part of the personnel team; Site Analyst and Solution Designer and then Team Leader with 6 designers; and lastly Data Discovery Team Manager with a team of 19 engineers.
With German language ability, Joanne subsequently worked 2010-16 for: Producto AG as the UK Content Manager/Team Leader with 4 content editors/translators; idealo internet GmbH as the UK Account Manager (sales team); and Merkur Interactive Services as the Customer Support Agent assisting the Finance Manager and providing cover for Office Manager.
Broadly based and able, Joanne has been Self Employed since 2017, still keen to be involved with buoyant aircraft and helping Luffships to set up.
Ben L – Webmaster
From working in the IT industry for thirty years Ben became a senior network engineer for a global telecommunications company. He also is a keen aviator who gained his PPL 1991 and continues to blog about aviation. With experience in the IT industry and aviation, and as the director of Redspan Solutions Ltd, Ben is the perfect match to advise, run LSL’s website and provide our aviation video marketing needs.
Ben T – Rapid Prototyping and Production Automation
Ben is an aerospace engineer, equally at home in the creative arts as he is in the technical/engineering world. Qualified from Southampton University, he specialises in materials and structures. Ben is the founder of Tindale Systems – a digital manufacturing business.
In 1985, after school in Australia, Italy and England, he produced his first laminated snowboard. In the early nineties, he set up a small ski and snowboard factory on the outskirts of Canberra but quickly diversified. After shifting focus, Ben took on scientific research and touring equipment, also becoming qualified as a graphic designer and a welder.
Ben today designs, makes and uses his own machines, including automated types to cut/weld films/fabrics to make aerostats. He currently is helping to provide LSL with suitable rapid reaction vectored thrust propellers and to productionise our designs.
Glen and Liz – Pilots
Trained as a draughtsman and working in the engineering industry, Glen and his partner Liz have been involved in hot air ballooning for the last 25 or so years. Glen also is a fixed wing pilot who has flown, built and rebuilt several LAA permit aircraft. In addition, he is a Commercial Hot Air Balloon Pilot and Senior Airworthiness Inspector for hot air balloons.
Supported by Liz generally, he also is:
- Member of the BBAC technical committee, and an Inspector/Auditor.
- Creator of the current BBAC/EASA Hot Air Balloon Airworthiness Inspection and ARC paperwork form system.
- A Hot Air Balloon Instructor.
- A Hi-flyer system operator.
- Leader of cluster balloon flights and human powered airship projects satisfying CAA rules.
- Co-editor with Liz of ‘Aerostat’, the BBAC/Industry magazine.