Thinking about a Hot Air Balloon

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted DuPuis, Oct 31, 2019.

  1. Bill Greenwood

    Bill Greenwood Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I have only ridden in one once. The sightseeing was good, but I didn't like the noise. I thought it would be like a glider where you ascend and then quietly enjoy floating around. Not this one, pilot was constantly turning the burner on about every minute and it was noisy right over our heads. I didn't look straight down much , so not really a fear of heights.
     
  2. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    Just install Garmin’s new autoland and it will take you to the nearest airport.
     
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  3. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    Just throwing this out there, but wouldn’t a powered parachute give you a lot of the same experience with a lot less of the hassles involved?
     
  4. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Modern problems require modern solutions...
     
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  5. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Have either of you been up in a balloon?

    My wife arranged for us to go up in one a few years ago. It scared the living c...p out of me!

    While I never feel afraid of heights in an airplane, that balloon ride was terrifying for me. Yes, I am afraid of heights in other situations as well, so it's not specific to balloons in my case.

    They look cool but not fun if you have the afraid-of-heights thing...
     
  6. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    I was on a balloon crew in Boise, a long time ago. I'm not sure how big their balloon was, but they were able to take about 4 adults, depending on weight. They gave commercial rides as a side business, but maybe only one or two per weekend, early in the morning. I was able to go up a couple times and it was cool. They "steer" by knowing what the winds are at various levels. They send a kid's helium balloon up first to test. They also know the wind patterns that are common to their location. It's seems as if all the landings were "out". They had a map showing what fields were friendly and what areas to avoid. Some people didn't want balloons flying over their farms; especially if they had horses. Cows are not afraid, and are even a problem sometime because they like to eat the fabric. Not sure how you would do it with just you and Laurie. Someone needs to drive the chase vehicle; plus folding up the envelope after landing looked like more than a 2-person job. I enjoyed ballooning and probably would have gotten my balloon add-on if I had stayed in the area. Boise had a small, close-knit balloon community, which was nice. Thinking there might be something similar in the KC area.
     
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  7. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    5A0B59A1-AF7B-4929-BF2A-249F2133F055.jpeg

    I’m pretty sure this one wasn’t planned. Doggie park in Napa. Parked there to go on a bike ride to Calistoga and back.
     
  8. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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  9. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    Living in Napa in the late 1970s it wasn't uncommon to wake up in the morning to the sound of burners overhead. Never have tried it, however. Someday...
     
  10. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    I don't see how this could be a two-person endeavor unless you always fly solo. You at least need someone to pick you up. I used to see balloons all the time flying and thought it was super cool. Then had the opportunity to help an instructor launch one morning.

    Out early in the chill weather, took a while and a bunch of gear to get ready, then launch. I think there were six of us and three got to fly. Within about 30 minutes they were putting down in a front yard.

    The effort/enjoyment ratio seemed closer to skydiving and doing one jump at a time than flying. It just held no attraction to me. But lots of people seem to love it. My totally uninformed suggestion would be to crew a few launches before jumping in with $$$.
     
  11. JCranford

    JCranford Pattern Altitude

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    Ive skydived out of a balloon before. Thats a pretty good time!
     
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  12. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Keep in mind our family dynamic. We are a 5 person family - 2 adults, 3 kids.

    So really the intended dynamic is one of the adults goes up in the balloon, either solo or with one of the kids or one of our friends, and the other adult drives the chase vehicle and chases with the kids. Last I checked, 4 and 7 year old kids are still supposed to get bigger, so before long the 7 year old will be able to do something semi-useful, followed by the 4 year (almost 5) year olds.

    Let's say my wife and I wanted to fly together. Well, we have friends who visit fairly frequently and most of them are pilots who would be interested in helping. So take them for a ride, and then let them do the ground crew while we fly together. Or get one of our local friends to help out with a similar arrangement.

    Pretty straightforward, really.

    That was actually something I was thinking about. Not that I'm a skydriver (I'm not) but it strikes me as a skydiving medium that's pretty cool. How high up did it go?
     
  13. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    If you all enjoy the process and the chasing as much as the flying, then that could work well.
     
  14. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Do you have a fear of heights or fear of falling.??

    I am fine in a plane as pilot or passenger, but if I am in a tall building and stand next to a ceiling to floor window I almost pee myself. It almost feels like there is an invisible force trying to pull me through the window. Once at the Grand Canyon, I could not get closer than 10 feet from the edge because I would feel that invisible force again. Eventually I did crawl up to the edge and look down. Pants stayed dry.

    As a flight instructor I had a student that was a psychiatrist, and he told me that it is a fear of falling I suffer from. Even driving over tall bridges bother me.
     
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  15. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I fully expect that the sight picture will take some getting used to. Laurie once took me up in a Hughes 269A with the doors off as is common in the summer, and I was not at all comfortable with that (the "fear of falling" that @Zeldman referenced). However I also remember when I was a student/new pilot that watching the ground fall away from me took getting used to as well. My wife will have no issues with that I expect, similar enough to the helicopters.
     
  16. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 Line Up and Wait

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    Wife bought me a gift ride... Balloon, glider, or parachute.
    I chose the balloon. Great ride, about an hour... Unteathered. I said unteathered because the winds at the different levels that day... Took us in a nice 10mile loop... And we landed about 100 feet from where we took off.

    Loved every minute of it.
     
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  17. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The big thing I've considered is that right now I don't really care about winds if they're under 20 knots from a flying perspective, because the planes I fly just don't care (other than the obvious choice of landing runway). While I already use Skew-Ts, I'm seeing how useful Skew-Ts will be for ballooning, being able to predict/forecast the winds at altitude, plus of course the use of a standard helium balloon to figure out winds.

    It's a different kind of flying and, like most other kinds of flying, adds in to make you a better pilot I think.
     
  18. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    a good friend of mine says "never fly anything that does not have a front" but i've recently become balloon-curious like Ted. Especially after following the Gordon Bennett and America's Challenge gas balloon races this year!
     
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  19. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I know if you ever want to make a few bucks go to a drop zone, jumpers love jumping balloons.
     
  20. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Want to come crew and get your rating once we get ours figured out?
     
  21. n2230b

    n2230b Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The following may be “aviation legend” but if it is true this alone would keep me from pursuing the LTA rating:

    I was told that one of the skills that must be demonstrated to obtain the rating consist of performing an ‘in flight burner re-light’. The exercise consists of deploying a spark flint lighting tool and manipulating the gas valve thus igniting the burner during flight all the while standing on the edge of the basket!

    Where are Wi too Lo, Sum ting Wong and Ding bang Ao when you need them? (Not to mention Ho lee Foo_)
     
  22. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    I would probably be interested in that. I know a DPE in Albuquerque! She works at one of the 141 schools there. She and her husband have competed in many Gordon Bennett and America's Challenge.

    Do you know where any hydrogen or helium pipelines might be that we can tap into?
     
  23. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    There's a pipeline at the edge of my property but I have no idea what runs through it. I would prefer if you not take a drill and try to find out, though.
     
  24. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You ever try to clean cow pies out of wicker?!
     
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  25. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I guess its a fear of falling. I was at Sacramento Airport on the second level concourse area which has a clear glass railing. Its a mere 15 feet to the floor below but i could not stand close to that railing!
     
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  26. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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  27. G-Man

    G-Man Line Up and Wait

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    Actually, I think it is a fear of edges! Cliff edges, balcony edges, overhang edges, ledge edges.
     
  28. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The thought of shaving with a straight razor must send you in to convulsions.
     
  29. JCranford

    JCranford Pattern Altitude

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    I think we were around 3500. It’s like dropping into a void. Since you have no initial airspeed, you don’t have much initial control until you gain some speed. Skydivers definitely love jumping balloons!
     
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  30. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'd imagine most people aren't scared of falling, they're scared of the abrupt stop at the end of the fall.
     
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  31. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Over the weekend I had a Cloud Nine trip, but we spent some time looking at balloons and getting some ideas of what we want and don't want. As usual, scope creep occurred, but not too much.

    First thing we've learned is that most people seem to own a bunch of balloons. It's not uncommon for people to say they own anything between 3-5 balloons. Because of how easy it is to swap components on balloons (and many people owning multiple balloons), most of the "complete package" balloons seem to be people putting together all the stuff they don't want and trying to sell that together. After talking to a few sellers about some balloons, we are thinking we'll likely need to focus on a good envelope or good basket and then the other will be less good (or just buy things separately).

    One thing I wasn't clear on that I now have learned is that the envelope is considered to be the "aircraft" and the N-number attaches to it. That makes sense, I just wasn't sure which was considered the "aircraft".

    We had been looking at Firefly balloons as they are popular for training and they're economical, plus have the benefit of being US-made (which many balloons are not). So when you need parts, you can get them a lot quicker.

    There are a few things about them that I think have made us change our mind on wanting something else, though. First, Firefly balloons have a triangular basket. By itself not a big deal although less useful overall. But with the triangular basket means they attach to the envelope at 3 points instead of 4, making for a more bouncy, less stable ride, especially when people move around.

    Additionally, Firefly balloons don't have a gimbal mount for the burner, so the flame can only go "up". Obviously this gives you less control of the flame, which is less desirable. Our instructor said you can work with it, but it's definitely less preferable and he thinks we'd be happier having a gimbal. We tend to agree with him. We do want two burners (because we like twins) but each individual burner is still redundant so that's less critical than in a standard powered aircraft, still trying to understand that more.

    One thing that I did decide to go do was reserve the N-number from my old Aztec, N6927Y. I've been wanting to reserve that tail number to put on another aircraft, but wasn't sure which aircraft. I wasn't going to just reserve it without an idea of where to use it and changing the tail number on any of the fixed wing aircraft I've flown would be a pain to do. But here, I think it makes sense. It'll be nice to have "Balloon 6927Y", even though I won't be talking on the radio with it much. :)
     
  32. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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  33. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    You're correct. Most of the ones they sell, at least for the 77k cuft balloons we're looking at are triangular. I should have clarified.
     
  34. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Laurie and I have made a tentative agreement on a balloon. It's a 77k cuft Lindstrand. The basket is big enough that it's something we could attach to a larger balloon if we decided we wanted to, but small enough that we can use it as-is. It was recently redone (the basket is really the longer lasting part of the deal, even though the N-number is attached to the envelope). It's a single burner, but understanding the redundancy aspects of it it's got plenty of redundancy such that we're happy with that. It's also on a gimbal unlike the Firefly/Balloon Works balloons, which is nice since it gives more control with directing the flame.

    It'll probably be later this month or December before we take delivery as there are a few things that need to get done. The balloon is in St. Louis so that's appealing. Unlike a plane (or even helicopter) where you can just ferry it, a balloon you actually need to transport some way. That's a bit of a pain if the thing is further away than you can/want to get it.

    One thing we're doing is changing the N-number. It's silly and of course doesn't impact anything, but it will make sense when we do it. I'll keep that a secret for the moment - at least mostly so. :)
     
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  35. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    Ballooning is great fun. I started crewing for a friend's dad while still in high school. He and I would go out partying, and his dad would shake us awake at 4 AM telling us it was too damn bad we stayed out late.

    I was there at the first balloon fiestas, when 10 or 15 balloons in one place was a big deal.

    My friend's dad was a great man, his name is on the balloon museum in Albuquerque.
     
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  36. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The balloon is supposedly ready for pickup. We're now working on figuring out the exact pickup/delivery times. I'll probably meet the seller halfway to do the sale as he's in St. Louis. Next weekend will be a solo weekend with the kids, so trying to do a round trip to St. Louis and back would be a long and tiring day. The seller might be able to meet me halfway which would make it a lot more doable.

    We're planning on buying an enclosed trailer to put the balloon in. This makes the most sense all around. It lets us keep it on our property which, since we're planning on flying off of our property, is really what we want to do. So I'm looking at enclosed trailers and trying to figure out what I want. I'm sort of conflicted on this. Part of me wants to get a trailer that I could put the Cobra or motorcycles in if I wanted to do track days or if we wanted to go have an overnight in better motorcycle riding territory. But the other reality is that neither of those would happen anytime soon. I could trailer the Cobra or motorcycles on the trailer I have (it's just not enclosed and very large). So I'm probably smarter just buying a smaller trailer that it can fit in.

    Once we get it, then it's just a matter of starting lessons.
     
  37. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I see a lot of balloons here at the annual Red Rock balloon rally. Some have enclosed trailers that carry everything and some have smaller enclosed trailers and carry the basket in the back of the truck. I think I would prefer a enclosed trailer that can carry everything, just to make storage easier.

    http://redrockballoonrally.com/
     
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  38. ja_user

    ja_user Pattern Altitude

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    I think you'll be happiest with a trailer that can carry everything, lock and keep everything out of the weather when needed. This way you can drive it to work and not worry about a little rain.

    I don't think i'd try to dual purpose the trailer, could make it painful to have everything you need in one place.
     
  39. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If the whole balloon flying thing doesn't work out, at least you will still have a serious marshmallow roaster.
     
  40. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I tend to agree with that. If we dual purposed the trailer then we also have to unload everything to reuse it. It probably makes the most sense to get a single purpose trailer for the balloon and then that's just the universal storage. If we then decide later we need a race trailer for whatever reason, we can then buy that. It's not like we're crunched for space on our property.

    Our annual bonfire works pretty well for that too:

    [​IMG]