Example of an amateur-built balloon with essentially the same design as described here.
Built by Steve Goodyear.


Presented here is an "open content" reference design for of a home-built balloon suitable for first time amateur builders. (For a full description of the motivation behind this project, click here.)

This project is being supported by a generous grant from the Wolf Aviation Fund.

Rick Jones wrote a very nice overview that appeared in the March/April issue of Ballooning Magazine. Click here for a PDF of the article. (Reprinted with permission of the BFA.)

The design is for a 54,000 cubic foot balloon envelope. The envelope uses a classic 16-gore, 13-panel structure. We chose this design because it is very straightforward to build and is modestly-sized for a first project.

Comparable designs have been completed, by first-time builders, in less than 200 hours of work. The story of one construction job is detailed from start to finish in this blog.

Nitty Gritty

The plans are divided into several parts that correspond to the menu items along the left side if each page. These are
  • Overview - The Big Picture
  • Envelope - The bulk of the surface area and the work
  • Top - The parachute vent on top
  • Skirt - The ring of fabric around the mouth of the envelope
  • Cables - The wires that connect the envelope to the bottom end
  • FAA - How to manage regulatory process go smoothly
  • Misc - Tidbits that don't obviously fit elsewhere

Please don't hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions about the construction process, how your project is going, or suggestions as to how we might improve these plans.

Dan Nachbar (
Paul Stumpf (

All information on this site is subject to the following disclaimer.

The balloon plans and descriptions provided here are
Copyright 2007-2008 Daniel Nachbar and Paul Stumpf
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.