Issue date: 16 November 2001
Donald Cameron is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration in recognition of his outstanding scientific, design, and entrepreneurial achievements and their important contribution to the story and reputation of Bristol.
Don Cameron was born near Glasgow and attended Allan Glen’s School before reading aeronautical engineering at Glasgow University from which he graduated in 1961. He gained a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering at Cornell University, USA in 1963 before returning to the United Kingdom and joining the Bristol Aeroplane Company.
Don Cameron joined the Bristol Gliding Club and in 1965 received the Silver “C” Gliding Badge. In 1967 he helped build the ‘Bristol Belle’, a red and white striped balloon which made its first flights at Weston-on-the-Green near Oxford. It was the first modern hot air balloon in Western Europe. In 1968 Don Cameron was issued with the first ever Private Pilot’s Licence for Hot Air Balloons.
The success of Don Cameron in translating his ballooning expertise into a commercial concern is reflected in the birth and success of his company, Cameron Balloons. In 1969, production was undertaken in the basement of his house but by 1972 an increase in demand resulted in St Matthew’s Parish Hall, Bristol, being acquired.
In 1972 Don Cameron received the Royal Aeronautical Club Bronze Medal, the first awarded for hot air airships. A year later he was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Club Silver Medal for the first balloon flight over the Swiss Alps. In the same year he received the Lighter Than Air Society (USA) Achievement Award for the development of the first hot air ship. Five years later he attempted the first Atlantic crossing by balloon for which he received the Royal Aeronautical Club Gold Medal. The 1970s also saw the development by the Cameron factory of the first special shape balloons.
The Cameron company moved to its present site in Bedminster in 1983 and in the following years all of the records for distance and duration were taken by pilots flying Cameron Roziere balloons. In 1989 Cameron Balloons Limited received the Queens Award for Export, confirmation that Don Cameron had made Bristol the undisputed balloon manufacturing capital of the world.
During the 1990s interest in becoming the first to fly around the world by balloon became intense and almost all the contenders have used Cameron helium/hot air balloons.
Don Cameron has advanced the science, technology and art of balloon flight to the highest level. His factory in Bristol is the world’s largest and last year he was awarded the Prince Philip Design Award.
Donald Cameron will be conferred with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration at the award ceremony of Bristol Business School on Tuesday 20 November at 11.30am at Bristol Cathedral.
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