Introduction


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On these pages you will find the story of the construction of a hot air balloon by a first-time builder. The builder in this case is an energetic and dedicated 23-year-old fellow named Kevin Herschman. Kevin has been ga-ga for ballooning for quite a while, given his tender age. He first became fascinated with balloons when a series of championship races were held in his home town of Baton Rouge, LA when he was 7 years old. He earned his commercial hot air balloon pilot rating while still in high school. His flying was then severely limited while he attended Oberlin College. Kevin graduated from school last month (December 2005) and clearly intends to make up for lost time.

He’s got a job starting in February. He’s also saved up enough money to buy either the materials to build a balloon or to buy a car. He decided to build the balloon first. I think this shows excellent taste.

Given that there are only about 4 weeks to get the job done, it will be a busy month. This is a rapid, but not entirely wild-eyed schedule. The largest part of the job will be sewing the fabric. Other folks have reportedly sewn their first balloon in something like 70 hours of work. Highly experienced builders can sew a balloon in a single (albeit long) day. So the task is doable if everything goes well; which of course it won’t. Thus, the adventure.

Your humble author is Dan Nachbar. I am the Sancho Panza of this little saga. I suggested to Kevin that he make a record of his building experience for posterity. But he figures that he’s going to be too busy sewing to do much typing; so I’ll do it. (Although Kevin may chime in once in a while.)

I’m involved because Kevin is building his balloon in my sewing workshop. I have such a workshop because I am building a hot air blimp (see http://www.personalblimp.com/ ) As it happens, the sewing portion of my blimp is completed. This leaves my sewing machines and associated stuff idle for the time being. It seems like a good idea to me for somebody to do something useful with them during this time period.

In recording this story I hope to provide amusement for all as well as a resource for people considering building their own balloon. With luck, reviewing the entries here will give a fairly clear view of what’s involved and allow potential future builders to make more informed decisions about whether to give balloon building a go.

In addition, this work may well serve as a pool of information that can be refined and expanded over time to create a more comprehensive balloon building website of some sort.

So, to start at the beginning of the story, click HERE.