Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wedding by balloon, an Indian first!

Seasons greetings all, I'm sat trying to sort out a booking muddle for
tommorrow. I guess I'll be giving somebody the season of goodwill boot up
the backside when the office reopens again ;-)Good luck to the happy couple.

A wedding in a hot air balloon!

Jaipur is ready to witness India's first wedding in a hot air balloon around
100 feet above the ground, with a priest chanting mantras and performing
traditional rituals on board.

The ceremony, slated for Dec 29 or 30, will be held during Shubh Vivah, a
part of the ongoing Indian Festival of Thematic Art (IFTA) 2006.

Mumbai-based Entertainment 7, the organisers of the festival, has kept the
names of the couple a secret.

"The wedding will be the first of its kind in India. The names have been
kept secret to generate more excitement. The pair could be a celebrity,
foreigners or Indians. The names would be revealed only at the time of the
event," said Anoop Srivastava of Entertainment 7.

"We have ordered a special hot balloon for the wedding. It would be flagged
off with traditional music and with all the rituals of an Indian wedding,"
he said.

The IFTA Dec 23-31 festival will also screen 20 classic comedy films at a
special theatre.

Entertainment 7, an event management company, helps promote cultural
identity through films, events, trade fairs and exhibitions.

-- (IANS)

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.432 / Virus Database: 268.15.28/604 - Release Date: 2006/12/26
12:23 PM

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Flying High in China


A century before the airplane, humans were already able to fly. They escaped Earth's gravity in hot air balloons! The first manned balloon was made in 1783 by French brothers, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, who succeeded in flying over Paris for twenty-five minutes. Two centuries later, the now old-fashioned sport is still loved by hard-core aficionados.

Thousands of people around the world take part in hot air ballooning. In China, two hundred or so have earned certificates for the sport. They are the lucky minority who can enjoy the high-octane flight which was a dream of their ancestors.

It was overcast on the day of filming. Experts said that wouldn't harm the flight, but there was no wind which meant more impurity in the air. A light breeze is best for ballooning.

Nowadays the hot air balloon has evolved into something that's simple to put together, easy to handle and very safe. The actual balloon part which is often called "The Envelope" is normally made by sewing together nylon or polyester panels with the bottom part made from a flame resistant material. The basket is woven from cane which carries gas containers, pipelines and burners. The pilot adjusts the handle to ignite the air and the heat makes the balloon rise!

In China, you need to pass a test and earn a certificate from the General Administration of Civil Aviation to fly a hot air balloon. And a special suit with full-length sleeves is needed to make sure the flame doesn't burn your arm.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Well blow me down (or away I suppose in a balloonists case)

I wonder if George will sue me for lifting his content?

We certainly have flown lawyers before but its always a bit of a worry ;-)

Seem that they have one thing in common with balloonists and that's a love
of beer!!!

In case any of you doubted the Internet Revolution's power, I got a comment
to my joking post about Grant Griffiths and his hot air ballooning from
balloon pilot and entrepreneur, Gary Mortimer, from, are you ready for this,
South Africa. I think that all lawyer bloggers in the U.S. should take a
trip to Gary's Lodge in Africa, and go hot air ballooning. While we are up
in the air, we could all blog simultaneously, creating the world's first "in
the air" law blog rave. I am entertaining comments from all law bloggers in
the blogosphere. I think we need to do this before we die. Any takers?
Thanks, Gary, for planting the idea in my head. In any event, since I can't
bring my RV with me, how about I rent one, and drive it to the balloon
airfield? Then, if I get cold feet, I could sit in the AC, drinking beer,
until I get up enough courage to go up.

Free Balloon Rides!!

Well not around here..

Free balloon rides offer overhead view of Festival of Lights


Published Monday, December 18, 2006

EAST PEORIA - Sometimes the price is just right.

Such was the case in the parking lot of the East Peoria Festival of Lights,
aka Folepi, on Wednesday evening as the festival launched its newest
attraction - free hot air balloon rides through the holiday season.

With the day's last bit of light disappearing on the horizon, UAB Aviation
of Missouri offered rides to a modest line of people, taking them up about
80 feet in the air for a quick five-minute ride.

Looking on as the balloon made its first run of the night about 5 p.m.,
Illinois Central College student Nicole Whittenburg watched as the pilot
ignited the propane burners, sending a large flame into the hollow chamber

"I don't get how it works," said Whittenburg, who was taking a break from
studying for finals to hitch a free ride. "You add fire to go up and you add
more fire to go down." The balloon has a giant blue, green and
white-checkered envelope with a huge "OSF Health Plans" insignia in the
middle. Lit up in the night's sky, it acts as a glowing billboard of sorts
for its sponsor, allowing UAB to give rides at public events free of charge.

For each short ride, about six people pile into a wicker basket at the
balloon's base. With a few pulls of the propane, the two giant burners -
like those of a kitchen stove range multiplied many thousands of times -
turn the air above hotter, carrying the vehicle up in the sky.

While the flight feels a bit uncontrolled, with no rudders, brakes or
steering wheels, four tethers, anchored to light poles and a city van below,
soon kick in, stopping the journey at about 80 feet.

The view isn't anything out of a postcard, as the modest hills surrounding
the area prevent riders from seeing the Peoria skyline or the Winter
Wonderland. But the feeling up top was rather calm and quiet, riders said,
as the balloon just floated in the air.

On longer rides, without an anchor, the trip is peaceful, pilot Michael
Weaver said as he tugged on the propane line, easing the balloon's descent.

"You can hear people below, you can see deer. It's really a beautiful
experience just to be there with the wind."

The offer of free balloon rides, which are scheduled to last until Dec. 31,
caught East Peoria by surprise. Owner UAB called the city with the offer
about 10 days ago.

"It was such a surprise," said Jill Peterson, public relations coordinator.
"We thought they may want to stay for just one or two days and be done, but
they said, 'We want to stay for the whole festival.'"

But the balloon certainly fits in with the broader festival, Peterson said.
"If you've ever seen them at night, they look like Christmas ornaments."

Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.432 / Virus Database: 268.15.16/582 - Release Date: 2006/12/11
04:32 PM

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dubai launches biggest balloon festival in Asia

My invite must have gotten lost in the post I am sure. I bet it's a bit warm
up there at the minute though. Down here in RSA I sit between some big
storms wondering what tommorrow morning will bring. Normally after a night
like this clear skies! We have been known to have cricket ball size hail
stones in these sort of conditions before. Soft Landings G

Dubai launches biggest balloon festival in Asia

DUBAI, Dec 17 (KUNA) -- The Dubai Balloon Festival, including air balloons
from 20 countries around the world, is the biggest on the Asian continent as
it will showcase around 75 colorful balloons in an exciting spectacle, a
Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) statement said Sunday.

Festive ambiances will characterize Dubai, spreading joy and entertainment
among the city's visitors, who are in for a shopping and winning treat in
the festival taking place from December 20 until February 2, the statement

Balloons from the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia, in addition to
three balloons from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will participate in the
event taking off from the Global Village.

The city of Albuquerque, USA, has been holding the International Balloon
Fiesta for over 34 years giving a chance to experience the thrill and grace
of hot-air balloons. With technical expertise by a team of professionals
from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Inc., the Dubai version of
the event has been initiated as a joint venture of a UAE business group and
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is providing technical support.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another old chestnut comes floating by broadband by balloon.

Now I actually think some remote parts of Africa etc will actually use some
sort of tethered balloon system for communications. Mozambique was
considering some for cell phone communications. The system to stay in place
until towers were built.

Broadband from on high, well, humm. Back in Kenya we finally had satellite
data and the BBC guys there had $300 laptop size systems that were quick and
more than adequate.

Perhaps other technologies are going to beat blimps to the finishing line.

This is my favourite use of blimps though

Broadband By Blimp Company Still Full Of Hot Air

from the oh-god-the-network-is-down dept

For going on five years now a company named Sanswire Networks has been
issuing press releases every six months or so, promising the world broadband
via "Stratellites"; giant airships positioned 64,000 feet up, able to
provide broadband and wireless service to a land mass roughly the size of
Texas. Despite the fact they've never actually built or launched one,
they've boldly proclaimed that a Stratellite should cost roughly $30 million
to launch, compared to a satellite's $250 million launch price-tag. After
years of empty promises and talk of South American launches that never
actually happened, the first prototype was unveiled last April, with ongoing
testing the past several months. These latest tests leave plenty to be
desired. They're conducted in tame 3 mph California winds, last just hours,
and the airships used are a fifth the size of what was supposed to be
delivered. They also fail to mention exactly how high the airship was -- so
we'll assume not very. That's a far cry from an airship that can
intelligently sit at 12 miles up for 18 months at a time, offering low
latency broadband to the happy campers below. The company says the tests
were conducted in "ideal conditions", but a sunny, windless day doesn't seem
like the ideal testbed for a company really looking to prove the viability
of this sort of product. The company's latest press release also says the
tethered test "demonstrates the effectiveness of delivering communications
via the processes the Company had all along envisioned." Demonstrating that
VoIP works from a toy balloon floating in the California sun is light-years
away from proving that "blimpband' is an idea fit for serious commercial

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

That Hood blimp again

Little bit happier story, I would love this blokes job.

Blimp's billboard floats across the sky
By Laura Meade Kirk
Providence Journal

Scripps Howard News Service
The Hood blimp ground crew jumps into action securing the blimp as it lands
for a quick change of pilot and passengers.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Hood blimp floats lazily above the Providence
skyline, loosely following the late-day traffic streaming south on
Interstate 95 about 1,000 feet below.

The huge white airship casually veers southwest, hugging the coastline of
Narragansett Bay, as it heads to the Quonset State Airport in North
Kingstown, which will be its home base for the week.

A convoy of Hood Airship Operations trucks and trailers is already at the
airport, waiting for security officers to escort them across runways to an
open field where the blimp is to be stationed.

As the blimp circles overhead, a crew of 10 men, each clad in khaki pants
and dark blue shirts, races onto the field and lines up in V formation into
the prevailing wind – like a flock of birds – ready to catch the blimp as it

Four men – two on each side – grab each of two long ropes dangling from each
side of the blimp as it touches down onto the field. Another grabs the lead
rope on the nose of the oversize helium balloon and pulls it to the ground.

The two-person crew jumps out of the tiny cockpit and a new pilot, Mats
Backlin, scrambles in. He dons a set of headphones and, after a quick check
of his instrument panel, asks the control tower for permission to take off

On Backlin's go, the ground crew lets go of the tethers and the blimp gently
eases back up into the sky, a gigantic balloon powered on either side by
propellers driven by two 2-liter engines – about the size of the engines in
the original Volkswagen Beetles.

Backlin is destined for McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, where his job is to fly
the blimp around the stadium for 90 minutes or so while the crowd assembles
for the game.

It's a gorgeous summer evening – about 80 degrees, with virtually no wind
and a visibility of more than 50 miles, clear to Boston and beyond.

Flying a blimp is a lot like skippering a boat, Backlin explains. And with
weather like this, he says, he can't imagine a better way to make a living
than sailing the skies.

The Hood blimp is a fixture over New England in summer and fall. It's
primarily a floating billboard – a form of advertising designed to spread
the company's name, explained Mickey Wittman, a spokesman for the Lightship
Group in Orlando, Fla., which owns and operates the Hood blimp and nearly 20
others worldwide.

Blimps are a novelty, so they attract attention wherever they go, Wittman
said. They're also incredibly quiet – at least at ground level – so they're
not distracting, he said. And, they're economical and environmentally
friendly, flying for hours on a single tank of gas.

The blimp flies five days a week over beaches, boating areas, ballgames and
other outdoor events – as well as along highways and byways as it travels to
its destination.

Most fans don't look beyond the blimp itself – a cigar shaped balloon that's
128 feet long and 44-feet tall, filled with 68,000 cubic feet of helium
(which is worth about $20,000, Macklin said).

It totally dwarfs the command station – known as a cockpit or the gondola –
that's strapped to the underbelly of the blimp by a network of 24 wire
cables. At nearly 9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 6 feet tall, the cockpit is
about as big as a full-size car and similarly laid out, with two bucket
seats in the front and a bench that seats two or three in the back.

The pilot sits to the left, in a chair equipped with foot pedals that
control the rudders that move the blimp from side to side. Large wheels on
either side of the pilot's seat, much like those on a wheelchair, control
the rudders that keep it level in the sky. This is Mats Backlin's office 30
or so hours each week, several months each year.

Backlin, 53, is among about 150 licensed LTA – lighter than air – aircraft
pilots worldwide. About 40 of them work for the Lightship Group.

Backlin, who's been around gliders and other aircraft since he was a boy,
went to college to study aeronautical engineering. He took a summer job at a
firm that designed and built hot air balloons and never left. Along the way,
he test-piloted some airships and was eventually persuaded to become an
airship pilot.

He's been piloting airships as a career for about 15 years, in North
America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

He's also amassed a slew of memories, from flying over the 1992 Barcelona
Olympics to regular trips over the New York City Marathon. Once he saw a
line of about 50 beachgoers on Long Island queue up to simultaneously moon
the blimp as it flew overhead.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

UAE balloon festival

Another one I did'nt get an invite to!! Sigh ;-)

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority, (SCTDA) promises even more exciting
entertainment and activities at this year's 2006 Grand Prix Championship.
For the first time in the Middle East, SCTDA and UAE Balloon will host a
unique festival of balloons with participants from all over the world.

The Balloon festival is expected to receive VIPs and Balloon enthusiasts
from around the world. UK, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Germany and
Brazil will be among several countries that will fly across Sharjah's Sky
line in their decorative hot air balloons.

The Balloon festival will take place from December 13 -15 2006 in Al Majaz
Park, Sharjah. World champions will be participating at the event such as
Russian Balloon Champion Vladimir Andre and world champion Magdalena
Bronoski from the Netherlands.

'On behalf of UAE Balloon, I would like to thank Sharjah Commerce and
Tourism Authority, (SCTDA) and H.E. Mohamed A. Al-Norman, General Director
of SCTDA, for giving us the opportunity to participate in such a world-class
event,' said AbdulAziz Al Mansoori, UAE Balloon President.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

And from the official new 7 wonders website.

Seems like wires were crossed over there.

Heres the offical site

World Tour - Day 13 - December 5, 2006

The final stop for the World Tour in 2006 and the close of the Asian segment
was a lively, worthy tribute to the Taj Mahal, a symbol for love and
passion. This symbolism has a particular relevance now, as we approach the
end of the year and a period of togetherness and festivities in many parts
of the world - in his brief comments in front of the Taj Mahal, Bernard
Weber noted that the qualities of love and passion are two much needed in
our world today. Love brings us together as a community, while passion gives
our lives meaning. The Taj Mahal, breathtakingly beautiful in the afternoon
sun, stands majestically as a monument to human love and passion.

The certificate of candidacy was handed to Mr. D. K. Burman, who accepted it
on behalf of Mr. Kokab Hameed, India's Minister of Tourism. The ceremony at
the Taj Mahal featured lovely Indian dancers and was attended by many
journalists as well as Indian fans of New7Wonders, some of whom had
travelled great distances to be a part of this special celebration.

Ad balloon in Taj Mahal airspace violation.

I will try and find a picture of this balloon. Any news is good news ;-)

Balloon ad campaign near Taj worries Agra
Thursday, December 07, 2006

A hot air balloon flown too close to the Taj Mahal as a publicity campaign
by promoters of the New 7Wonders Foundation, a privately funded group, has
raised fears of a security lapse in Agra.

Agra authorities and security officials are reportedly ruing their decision
to allow the foundation - on a world tour to draw a new seven-wonders list -
to fly their balloon close to a main dome of the Taj.

The media has splashed photographs of the balloon right over the dome flying
a full 15 minutes in clear violation of the no-fly zone orders.

'The Taj Mahal is too sensitive a structure and a high-profile security
zone. It is shocking how the team members dared to go ahead with their
pre-announced plans without any questions asked,' asked a resident.

Rooftop restaurants in the vicinity were asked to shut down their operations
from Thursday.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has denied permitting the launch of
the hot air balloon over the Taj. Uttar Pradesh tourism officials reportedly
gave the go ahead to the New 7wonders team.

'When did India officially seek candidature in the current contest and who
applied for it?' asked another angry resident here, after the team handed
over a candidature certificate to tourism officials at the Taj Mahal venue.

District and ASI officials said they had no inkling about a new
seven-wonders list.

A Central Industrial Security Force official said: 'The balloon did not take
off from within the Taj premises.'

The New 7Wonders Foundation has declared the Taj Mahal one of the 21
finalist monuments. Their campaign was launched Sep 5 as a tribute to the
ancient Greek origin of the Wonders of the World concept.

The finalists in the campaign include the Acropolis, the Hagia Sophia
museum, the Kremlin/St. Basil's, the Colosseum, Neu-schwanstein Castle, the
Eiffel Tower, the Stonehenge, the Alhambra, the Great Wall of China,
Kiyomizu Temple, the Sydney Opera House, Angkor, the Taj Mahal, Timbuktu,
Petra, the Pyramids of Giza, the Statue of Christ Redeemer, the Easter
Island Statues, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itz and the Statue of Liberty.

Located in Agra, the Taj Mahal was constructed between 1631 and 1654 by
Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz, who died in

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You tube video of teabag balloons

I saw this on Braniac and promptly raided the stored at Governors Camp for Tea Bags.

Adam and I found that the posh herbal ones worked best, ie they have to be long teabags. You can clearly see that in the video.

Normal short ones don't work.

We wasted a couple of boxes but don't tell the boss!!!

Stone Henge pictures... on this day in 1906....

1906 - The first aerial photographs of Stonehenge - the first aerial
photographs of any British archaeological monument - were displayed at the
London premises of the Society of Antiquaries.
They were taken from a hydrogen balloon, probably around late September
1906, by 2nd Lieutenant Philip Sharpe of the Royal Engineers' Balloon
Section. The Royal Engineers began using hydrogen balloons in 1878 (not
hot-air), and had been experimenting with aerial photography from at least
1881. The first intentional aerial photo for archaeological purposes was
taken in June 1899, of excavations at the Forum in Rome.

Monday, December 04, 2006

First Kavanagh for South Africa

Bit late this, whats new they cry!

My excuse is that I'm doing far too much travelling at the minute, 6000km in 12 days.

Anyhow, last week I was in Joburg having my balloon C of A'd and Felicity Clegg had just completed the test flight for the civil aviation authority here of a Kavanagh 210.

The new owner was delighted with the service offered by Phil and Sean. That flight happened last Wednesday on the 29th of Nov 2006.

I am pretty pleased as well as someone else is getting the type through the paperwork hassles here!!

Thanks for everybody that has sent emails, now please send some news as well!!

Cheers from the Kruger National Park and 40C temps.