Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 1 (of blogging)

**I make NO claim that this is a "How to" blog about building hot air balloons. I do not advise anyone to use this blog as instructions on how to construct their own balloon. Please educate yourself about the sport and physics involved in constructing and flying an experimental hot air balloon if you decide to undertake such a project. Hot air ballooning is only FUN if you make it SAFE.**

Hi, My name is Mike. This is my blog that will document my experience building an experimental hot air balloon. Sorry to disappoint some of you but this wont be a "how to" blog on building a balloon. Rather, it will be a place for me to write my thoughts during the process and to provide progress updates for those of you who decide to follow along. My posting will be a little slow going in the beginning.

A little about myself: I have been repairing balloons since early 2001. Working on hot air balloons started off as a job, turned into a hobby, and  has ended up engulfing my life. Like many other Lighter Than Air (LTA) enthusiasts, I get excited at the thought of being in the air. What makes me different (than most), is having a similar excitement for inspecting and repairing balloons too. For the last few years I have had an itch to build my own balloon... and a few weeks ago I finally decided to scratch!

Over the last few weeks I have been hunting down sources for purchasing fabric and load tapes since I already have most of the other materials required  for the build. In addition to finding these materials, I joined the Experimental Aircraft Association ( ) and purchased one of their "Homebuilders Registration Kits". The kit gives a detailed process on how to register the balloon and get it inspected. It also includes all the forms, stickers, and other documents you will need to complete the registration process. Even though I could get all these forms for free, the saved time was worth the 12 price tag.

What now? The design!
The measurements for the panels are a combination of Aerostar and Cameron designs with a few added inches in specific places to (hopefully) create a less dramatic bulb shape at the top of the balloon. My estimated envelope volume will be 53,000 to 56,000 cubic feet. I think that's all I will write about the envelope for now. I'll add more specifics in future posts.
My design for the lower end isn't complete at the moment, but I am interested in the design of Cameron Balloons Duo Chariot and will likely use it as a starting point for my own design. I have considered building a single seat cloud hopper, but I want to be able to fly other people, hence a two seat bench style lower end.
I am going to use an old Aerostar HP2 burner and Aerostar horizontal 20 gallon tank. I am also considering designing the "Duo Chariot" to be able to carry an additional 10-15 gallon tank for long jumps. Right now it is only an idea, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

As stated before, this will blog will be slow going. I am going to make periodic updates on my progress as I go. There might be days and possibly weeks in between posts, but I hope you decide to follow me in this experience!



  1. bally ribbon mills for loadtapes.

  2. Im familiar with both of the sites, but thanks for sharing. Bally Ribbon quoted me 70 cents per yard but quoted me at 60 cents per yard for the same product.

  3. That seems a little high for load tape. What type and size are you using?

  4. I use 3/4" Mil-Spec 5038 type 4 Class 1A at $.48 a yard from Bally. Back in 2000 I did a pull test with 5/8" 5038 Type 4. I wanted to check the tape and a test cable. When the load tape finally failed the cable end eyes had elongated to a point that I could not remove the Rapide link. It takes a huge load to break a load tape.