Monthly Talk 13th July 2017


SPEAKER: Rob Bayly

Rob has flown balloons in the arctic, deserts and mountains a well as at the world's largest and most colourful balloon meetings. Among his record-breaking flights Rob has flown the Atlantic by balloon. In parallel Rob was a member of BBC staff for 33 years, starting as a TV producer on "Tomorrow's World" and finishing his career on the "Antiques Roadshow" - so traveling from the future to the past!

Born, Cambridge 1953. Rob grew up near Liverpool in the 1960s inspired by the Merseybeat bands and music of pirate ships such as Radio Caroline. In 1976 Rob became a BBC radio Studio Manager, engineering programmes on World Service, Radio 4 and sound balancing Radio 1 & 2 pop music band sessions. He became a TV producer in 1982 directing films for BBC Science including "Tomorrow's World, "QED" and "Horizon".

In 1987 Rob gained his air hot air balloon pilot's licence. Five years later he flew the Atlantic as co-pilot of the British entry in the only Transatlantic balloon race. He has flown the English Channel three times and has three times been winner of the Great British Long Jump distance competition. Extreme flights include the Norwegian Arctic, Austrian Alps, Sri Lankan jungle and New Mexico desert. Rob holds a number of records and has flown in countries including Russia, USA, Australia, Malaysia and UAE Dubai.

In 1995 Rob became a BBC producer and director on dramatised rescue series "999" and then other popular factual programmes such "DIY SOS", "Wanted Down Under", "Bargain Hunt" and until retirement as outside broadcast director on "Antiques Roadshow" with Fiona Bruce.

N.B. Rob's lecture style is very informal, accessible and light hearted when appropriate. His talks are heavily illustrated with photos, video and sound clips designed to hold the attention of a wide audience. Rob draws on extensive first hand knowledge of ballooning and broadcasting, both very visual and entertaining subjects. He enjoys answering questions and after-talk chatting as required.


In 1992 Rob was co-pilot of the British balloon in this unique international event. This is Rob's personal story using specially recorded video of life on board to capture the amusing moments plus the emotional highs and lows. Five had died in previous Atlantic attempts and now five teams were racing each other to dry land. Not all would make it. Powerfully illustrated with dramatic pictures, actual race radio communications and real video including a spectacular British splash and crash landing on the coast of Portugal. Rob takes you with him on this life and death challenge.