The BOTTOM END: this includes the basket, burners, fuel cylinders, basket, essential safety equipment and instruments.
The GROUND EQUIPMENT: This includes all the items needed to get the balloon into the air that stay on the ground afterwards, such as the petrol fan, tether ropes, trailer and retrieve vehicle etc.
The TOP END: this is the envelope or balloon itself. The envelope’s are manufactured in a standard type format, with the material, rip stop nylon, being cut to shape into gores and then fed through the sewing machine several times, where it is stitched to a load tape.
Each of these load tapes meet at the top of the balloon where they are attached to a crown ring, at the bottom end they are attached to a flying wire and are joined into groups, depending on the size of the balloon and attached by karabiners to the basket burner frame. At the top of the envelope a large hole is filled with a parachute attached by lines to the basket, which allows for the deflation of the balloon on landing and the dumping of hot air during flight when a descent is required.
There is also an option, in particular on larger balloons, of a rapid deflation system, as shown in the photo above, this allows a large amount of hot air to be dumped from the envelope on landing allowing a shorter stopping distance when it is windy.
On many balloons there are turning vents, which allow the balloon to be spun on its axis, this can be very useful for turning the balloon to get the artwork and sponsors name square on for cameras or for the public to see. The turning vents are also used by the pilot during flight to maintain a clear visibility and on landing to ensure the basket lands squarely therefore further protecting the passengers.
It is important to get your idea and information to us as soon as you can, it can take up to 20 weeks to build a unique special shape and get it certified to fly as an aircraft and up to 12 weeks for a conventional shape.
The size of the envelope dictates the size of the payload, (passengers etc) that the balloon can carry, envelope sizes are measured in cubic ft a small balloon one person skyhopper could be a 31,000 cubic ft, The standard aerial advertising balloon is normally between 80,000 – 105,000 cubic feet and can carry 2-4 people. The larger passenger ride balloons can vary but a popular size is now 400,000 cubic feet and can take a payload of around 16-20 passengers, who stand in different compartments of 4-5 people in each. A decision on the basket size and burner types also depends upon the size of the envelope chosen. For instance one of the larger balloons such as a 400 would have a quad burner system and the 105 a double burner system. The principles of flying these balloons remains the same no matter what the size.
ADVERTISING / ARTWORK
The artwork or advertising on a balloon can be produced at different stages of the balloon manufacture depending on the type of artwork that is required. Often the artwork is printed onto the material before it is sewn together, on occasions when there is no printing required, different colours and wording can be cut and sewn into the panels. Another style of artwork is hand painting and this is carried out with parts of the balloon lying on the production floor while the artwork team paint on the design. With modern day techniques and photo imaging we can now achieve stunning and head turning graphic designs to create a balloon you will be proud of.
We would discuss with you the plans for the balloon, whether it will tether as well as free fly, take part in night glows and the numbers of passengers to be flown at any one time and that criteria including cost, quality, design, reliability will help to decide what size balloon would suit your requirements best. The artwork and design of your balloon is extremely important to ensure that your product / business are properly represented, at Flying Enterprises we work closely with you, providing computer images of how the finished balloon will look.
Also available are the exciting special shaped balloons, these balloons really do catch the imagination and create a lot of excitement and media attention. They are individually designed and constructed to create magnificent works of flying art that really do turn the eye of those on the ground watching.
The manufacturing process and timetable depends on the complexity of the balloon, the time of year, manufacturing is less busy in the winter, and can be anything between 4 weeks to 4 months, so it does need to be planned.