Archive for February, 2006

Starting at the Beginning

Friday, February 24th, 2006

Greetings.

If you’ve come to read this blog for the first time, you should know that the messages posted here are in “reverse” order. It’s kind of odd, but that’s how “blogs” work. So, strangely enough, the message posted just below this one is in fact the last one. You might want to start at the beginning. After reading an entry, you can easily get the next one by clicking on the title/link on the upper right corner of each message page. So, to start at the beginning of our little story, click HERE.

Alternatively, you might want to read some background information by clicking on the page labeled “Introduction” on the right side of this screen.

Wrapping Up This Part of the Story

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Kevin and his balloon headed West on Interstate 80 on Thursday afternoon. Things are kinda quiet around here today.

Before his departure, Kevin sewed a bag for his new balloon and put together a tally of his expenses on the project. You can find the expense list on the link to the right labeled “Materials Price List”.

I’d like to express my thanks to all the folks who provided advice, encouragement, and/or materials. In addition to those mentioned in previous posts and elsewhere, I would like to particularly thank Paul Stumpf of Stumpf Balloons for his wise and patient counsel.

And thanks to y’all for your interest and comments. This blog has been surprisingly popular. It’s been getting “hits” from more than 100 unique IP address each day during the last week of the sewing. It seems that balloon-building and/or Kevin are more popular that one would have supposed.

I’ll post here from time to time with updates as Kevin finishes the rest of the balloon. The further steps include finding a “bottom end” for the balloon, FAA inspection, airworthiness certification, flight testing, etc. But the rate of the posting will, obviously, be far less than for the past few weeks.

If the tale told here has piqued your interest in building balloons, please help yourself to the information at xlta.org. Also, there is an email list of balloon builders that is a terrific resource. (A pointer to the list can be found on the Links page of the xlta.org site.) I think it’s fair to say that Kevin would not have been able to build his balloon without the resources and people he found via the email list.

And finally, below are some more pictures from this past week. As always, click on the small picture below to get a full-sized image.

Here are some more shots taken during the initial inflation. The first is from the side. That’s Issac, one of our little neighbors, standing in front of the balloon:

side view with Issac

Here’s another side view:

another_side_view

Here’s a shot from the inside looking towards the mouth:

inside looking towards mouth

Getting ready to fire up the burner:

getting ready to fire

Starting the hot inflation (The white spots are mist caught by the camera flash.) If you look closely at the bottom of the mouth, you can see a small puff of white stuff. As the burn continued for a few seconds the cloud grew quite large. Everybody’s heart skipped a beat — fearing that the envelope was being damaged. Then we realized that the white stuff was just steam. The mist had gotten everything quite damp by this point.:

starting to burn

Lifting off (This shot gives a good view of the steel pipe contraption that we slapped together for the inflation test):

lifting off

Another shot of the balloon standing up for the first time:

another_full_balloon_shot

And yet another view of the balloon:

full balloon with flame

And lastly, here’s a shot of a tired-but-happy Kevin with his envelope in its newly sewn bag and a well-used sewing machine just before hitting the road back to Ohio:

finished_product

Kevin expects to return to Amherst with his fully finished and certificated balloon this June at the Experimental LTA Gathering that I host on the weekend following Memorial Day. You can find out more about that at xlta.org.