Friday, November 30, 2007

Myanmar Balloon tissue balloon festival.

I wonder if this is a government generated blog???

I should think they are struggling to get international visitors back there.


The November fullmoon is an important date in Myanmar tourist calendar, especially for those wishing to visit Taunggyi, Lake Inle and its environs.During this period there are many colourful and enchanting festivals at Taunggyi.

One of the most famous is the Hotair Balloon Competition where hotair balloons of various sizes, shapes and figures are sent up into the sky both in competition and sheer joy. The competition is divided into two parts: a daytime competition and night-time competition.Balloons sent up during the daytime are small but nevertheless they are diverse. There are cows, elephants, birds and even rhinoceroses sailing up into the sky.

They may be alone or in pairs or even in groups of 4 or 5 balloons. The balloons that are sent up at night are huge, some measuring more than 30 feet in diameter and 60-70 feet high. They are hung with many small glass-paper lanterns on the outside and teams must race to finish lighting them up in stipulated period. As they fly up pyrotechnics displays are released against the dark background. Marks are given for the creativity, flight patterns, outside decorations, the ability to complete all tasks in stipulated time etc.

But whatever the results everyone has a goodtime, including many tourists.I am pleased to direct this blog to know more about Taunggyi Tazaung Daing.This year, they did do webcast successfully and we have to know about competed hot air ballon of 301 and it is 64 more than last year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Firefly Balloons, $691,200 dollars in Federal assistance in 2005

Well its all in title really.

This URL was bought to my attention,

Seems to be a small business loan, sat under the grants tab.

Interesting stuff though, if that is Firefly balloons the manufacturer and not Firefly Balloons the novelty balloon seller or some such.

Was it a tough year for balloon sales or did they expand then. We don't know too much about them in the rest of the world.

Perhaps someone in the USA could enlighten.

Gary Mortimer

Advertising Blimp breaks free

Published November 27, 2007 11:00 pm - A giant blue blimp-shaped balloon that appeared to be about 30 feet long with an advertisement for a Pennsylvania apartment complex scrolled across the side landed 350 miles away in Massachusetts. Balloon makes overnight flight before taking off againBy Katie Curley THE DAILY NEWS (NEWBURYPORT, Mass.) AMESBURY, Mass. —
Neighbors Denis Nadeau and Bill Morse had quite a surprise early Tuesday morning when they looked out their windows and into their backyards on Whitehall Road.

Stuck on Morse’s fence was a giant blue blimp-shaped balloon that appeared to be about 30 feet long with an advertisement for an apartment complex scrolled across the side. The complex wasn’t local — it was for The Lofts at Valley Forge outside of Philadelphia, about a six-hour, 350-mile drive from Amesbury.

“I looked out my window at about 5:45 this morning, and there it was,” Morse said.
Nadeau called the number on the blimp wondering where it came from and was put in touch with its owner in Valley Forge. She told Nadeau it was on the lawn on the complex Monday, but it must have come loose.

A powerful storm, the same one that contributed to the lowest-scoring NFL game in 60 years Monday night in Pittsburgh, had blown the blimp off its mooring, Nadeau said.
Less than 10 hours later, it had traveled and landed at the Morse home on the shores of Lake Gardner. Nadeau, the town’s building and zoning compliance officer, spent the early morning snapping pictures of the blimp.

“This doesn’t happen every day; it’s pretty strange,” Nadeau said.
When Nadeau spoke with the woman in Pennsylvania, they discussed deflating the balloon and sending it back, but no plans were made, he said. According to Web sites for companies who manufacture promotional blimps, the large ones can cost as much as $5,000.

Then as quickly as the big blue balloon appeared, it flew away again.
A gust of wind around 11 a.m. pulled the balloon from the fence and carried it high over the ocean in the direction of Salisbury Beach, Morse said.
“It landed for the morning, then it was gone,” Morse said. “It’s headed north.”

Though the balloon that visited Amesbury on Tuesday was a promotional advertising device, it resembled a weather balloon, which can reach an altitude of 90,000 feet and can travel hundreds of miles an hour.

The balloon that landed in Morse’s backyard was not immediately determined to have been picked up by Federal Aviation Administration radar, according to FAA spokesman Jim Peters. A person reached at Lawrence Airport said their radar has a five-mile radius.
“We don’t know what route it took or what altitude it was at — it could have been anywhere,” Peters said. “Any reason as to how or why it got to Amesbury would be speculative.”
Peters sent pictures and information about the balloon to the FAA Lexington office, where it will be investigated, he said.

Toy balloon flys from Northern Ireland to Norway

High flying balloon had enough puff to make it to Norway

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
By Victoria O'Hara

A charity balloon launched in Northern Ireland proved to be full of hot air - after it travelled hundreds of miles to land in Norway.
About 500 balloons were released from Belfast Castle to mark International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in October.
The charity Life After Loss, which organised the release, also ran a competition for the balloon which travelled the furthest distance.
They received two tags back from balloons found across the UK - one from Ballycarry in Northern Ireland and another from Girvan in Scotland.
But a third was found by Kristen Troseng- in Sigdal, Norway, almost 700 miles away.
Life After Loss spokeswoman Heather Savage said they were all very surprised when they read the tag.
"It was found on October 21, exactly a week after the release in Belfast," she said.
"On the day the actual balloon release was very successful indeed.
"Anyone was able to purchase a balloon to be released from the top of the castle.
"People were filling in the tags with messages, and anyone who found the balloons were asked to fill the tag in and send it back to us in Belfast.
"The furthest away would win a prize.
"We really didn't expect to receive one from Norway!"
Ms Savage added: "The conditions must have been good for the balloon to travel that far.
"I thought this was quite incredible!
"I haven't managed to speak to Kirsten yet but I'm looking forward to finding out exactly where she found the tag!"
Ms Savage said the charity event raised £1,200 for a number of baby loss charities.
"A huge crowd turned up, and the release itself was very poignant," she added.
"We are just really starting out as a charity, and this was our first really big event, so we are delighted that it went so well, and we had a great response.
"So I'm sure after the success of the balloon launch we will do it again next year."

Hot Air Balloon Festivals

Nice use of the google maps API here at

Will be very handy if your travelling on holiday to a foreign clime and you would like to catch a balloon meet when there.

I guess if you have an event then you should contact the guys!!!!

It probably is the biggest list anywhere, but only really covers the USA.

Gary Mortimer

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Steve Fossett to be declared legally dead.

Very sad, and I guess it had to happen one day.

Peggy Fossett must have been holding out on this one.

Perhaps Sir Richard Branson should pick up the gauntlet and have a crack at the land speed record in memory of his friend and fellow adventurer.

I'm sure many people have seen the video clip where Sir Richard talks to a chap at a balloon launch about Steve Fossetts flight, only to discover that he is talking to Steve Fossett himself.

One of modern times great adventurers, maybe Steve has left us in a mysterious manner befitting of such a chap.

Gary Mortimer


By Michael Higgins Tribune staff reporter
1:53 AM CST, November 27, 2007
Article tools

The wife of Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett went to court Monday to have him found legally dead, saying she believes he died when his plane disappeared over the Nevada desert in September.Peggy Fossett asked a Cook County probate judge to begin the process of distributing his assets according to his will."[Steve] Fossett's wealth is vast, surpassing eight figures in liquid assets, various entities and real estate," the court petition said.

Fossett was reported missing Sept. 3 after he failed to return for a lunch appointment from what was supposed to be a pleasure trip while a guest at the ranch of Barron Hilton, the hotel magnate. Fossett had only one bottle of water with him.Officials and volunteers searched for weeks for Fossett and the white, blue and orange Bellanca Citabria Super Decathalon plane he was flying. Searchers used rescue aircraft, satellite and radar images and even scoured the craggy, remote terrain of western Nevada on foot. The search recovered wreckage from eight other air crashes, including one from the 1960s, but it turned up no sign of Fossett or the plane."As anyone can imagine, this is a difficult day for our family," Fossett's wife, who lived in the Gold Coast neighborhood with her husband, said Monday in a written statement. "We will continue to grieve and heal, but after nearly three months we feel now that we must accept that Steve did not survive."Peggy Fossett said she and others contributed more than $1.2 million in private funds to the search effort, which was scaled back in mid-September and suspended in early October."Although an ongoing recovery mission continues, all involved have accepted the inevitable conclusion that Mr. Fossett did not survive," Mary Downie, one of Peggy Fossett's lawyers, said.Under the law, the petition can be filed at any time after someone is suspected of dying.It could take two to three years to distribute Fossett's assets. Peggy Fossett's lawyers are expected to appear before Probate Judge Jeffrey Malak in a few months.Steve Fossett, a commodities trader who had made millions of dollars in Chicago, was known as a record-setting adventurer whose conquests included scaling the world's tallest mountains, swimming the English Channel and completing five nonstop flights around the earth as a solo balloonist, sailor and pilot.The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the plane flown by Fossett was destroyed in a fatal crash, according to Monday's court petition."Even if Fossett had survived a crash uninjured, which statistics show to be very unlikely, without water Fossett could not live more than a few days," Mark Marshall, a Fossett friend, said in a sworn statement.In her affidavit, Peggy Fossett said her husband was in good spirits and had no debt or financial difficulties."None of Steve's wealth was transferred out or withdrawn in any manner that would suggest a planned disappearance," her statement said. "Steve has not accessed any of his assets since his disappearance. Steve had no debt and no life insurance."According to the petition, Fossett was in the late stages of building a vehicle that he hoped could set a land speed

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Steve Fosset, was the Amazon Mechanical Turk effort worth it??

From wired magazine

Looking back, Diana Francis says she should have known it would be a big waste of time. She sat for hours each day in her husband's home office in Houston scouring little digital snapshots of the Nevada desert on, in hopes that she'd help locate vanished millionaire aviator Steve Fossett.
Finally, though, she decided the exercise was tedious and unproductive.
"It was so exciting and new when we started it and it seemed like it could really help them, but eventually it was disheartening, and I realized I had no idea what I was actually looking for," says Francis, who participated for a couple of weeks while her kids were at school. "You know the saying, 'a needle in a haystack'? Well, this literally was like looking for a needle in a haystack the size of a small European country."
She's not the only one now expressing doubts about Amazon's Mechanical Turk, a high-tech aspect of the Fossett search that received such vast media hype that Mechanical Turk's director, Peter Cohen, won't do interviews about it any more. The online retail giant took the most up-to-date satellite images of the 17,000-square-mile search area, broke it into smaller chunks, and had more than 50,000 volunteers look at randomly distributed segments. In Mechanical Turk parlance, each segment was a small job, known as a Human Intelligence Task or HIT, which required the assigned volunteer to flag anything thought to be out of the ordinary.
Fosset disappeared Sept. 3 during what was planned as a brief jaunt from a ranch 90 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada. The massive online effort didn't lead to the discovery of Fossett or the single-engine Citabria Super Decathalon he was flying. But neither did the dozens of planes and hundreds of ground searchers who made up the biggest search for a missing aircraft in U.S. history. To date, it remains a mystery what happened to Fossett.
Amazon closed the search last week, almost a month after the official on-site search ceased. Now that it's over, Amazon spokeswoman Kay Kinton says the company has learned much, and she gives the system high marks for its ability to update and adapt as the situation changed.
Still, many of those who participated have mixed feelings about their experiences. Francis, who says she's "not that much of a geek," regrets taking part, but many who are more knowledgeable about the technology say it was a worthwhile exercise that should help Amazon refine its methods in the future.
"There was always the hope that people with good eyes would hit the right image, but it's also a learning experience," says Ken Barbalace of Portland, Maine, who runs the website and who looked at 25,000 HITs. "We can't figure out how to make it a valuable tool until you work on it and change things."
The most important change Amazon needs to make for the future, Barbalace says, is that the interface ought to offer a way for searchers to toggle between the image they're given and an image of the same section prior to the date of the search target's disappearance. That would have helped volunteers know whether the things they were spotting were new.
Instead, some volunteers took the GPS coordinates from the squares they were issued and fed them into Google Earth for older images, slowing down their progress. And in the last couple of weeks when Mechanical Turk started using higher-resolution images, the GPS coordinates were no longer listed with the images, which made matching the photos even more of a challenge.
Some volunteers believed that information was withheld because Amazon began to worry that helpers would try to actually go to the sites themselves to search. But Kinton says it's because the source at that point changed from satellite imagery to images taken from aircraft, which didn't have GPS coordinates attached.
Another intense Turker, Andy Chantrill of Castle Donington, England, says he wishes Amazon had provided the searchers with more information about the overall effort. The 25-year-old software designer says he put in 85 hours poring over 20,000 HITs. Since each square was reviewed by up to 10 people, he says he'd like to know how many others had flagged ones he looked at.
"The value of the contribution is hard to quantify because ultimately we failed to find Steve, but it seems reasonable to imagine that this could work," Chantrill says. "I don't see any downsides to it, so long as people don't pester the professional search-and-rescue teams with poor leads."
Yet that is exactly what happened, much to the exasperation of Civil Air Patrol Maj. Cynthia Ryan, who says her e-mail and voicemail boxes were flooded with leads from folks working on the Mechanical Turk. Many times, they mistook search aircraft in the air for Fossett's plane -- even though it's unlikely Fossett's plane would have appeared intact.
"The crowdsourcing thing added a level of complexity that we didn't need, because 99.9999 percent of the people who were doing it didn't have the faintest idea what they're looking for," Ryan says.
"In the early days, it sounded like a good idea," Ryan continues. "In hindsight, I wish it hadn't been there, because it didn't produce a darn thing that was productive except for being a giant black hole for energy, time and resources. There may come a day when this technology is capable of doing what it says it can deliver, but boy, that's not now."

Google Earth

Its quite possible that I am the last balloon pilot to do this.

Its drizzling here, looks set in so I have been looking for weather charts, satellite pictures, you know the drill.

Well I spotted, "weather" as a tab on google earth the other day and I selected it tonight.

I then found yet another reason to loose too much time on google earth.

Looking at the cloud formations around the earth was stunning.

Now if I was in a more civilized part of the world I see it would also offer me a radar overlay as well.

Flipping handy for seeing lines of storms develop in a more, um intuitive way. Well you can zoom in and out to your hearts content and see how parts of the weather system relate to the rest.

Will it make forecasting tommorrows passenger flight easier?? I doubt it.

But it looks way cool.

Gary Mortimer, in the drizzle South Africa.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Power Line strike during tether New Zealand

Plop - power goes out By Anika Forsman 22 Nov 2007

HOW deflating – the Civil Aviation Authority is awaiting a report from Queenstown hot-air balloon operators who got caught in live powerlines last Sunday. Glenorchy’s power was cut off for more than two hours during the spring carnival after a hot-air balloon made an emergency descent during a stunt in the recreation ground.

Sunrise Balloons had invited local daredevil Chuck Berry to jump from the balloon when they were caught in a wind gust and hit powerlines in front of more than 30 spectators. CAA’s Bill Sommer confirms hot-air balloon incidents fall under their jurisdiction but they haven’t heard from the company. “We would expect that in the end it’s reported to the CAA,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be instant – just as soon as is practicable.” An eyewitness told Mountain Scene the balloon was flying quite high before it came to grief. “You could smell burnt nylon from the balloon and that’s what probably shorted out the power,” says a Glenorchy source not wanting to be named. “I was asked to move further away from the wreck – I think they were a bit worried about the gas cylinders.”

When Mountain Scene first contacted Sunrise Balloons the woman answering the phone re­­­fused to comment or give her name. “I’ve got nothing to tell you,” she says. “Mountain Scene drives me absolutely mad, you always love it when something goes wrong.” Sunrise owner and pilot Hugh McLellan did speak to Mountain Scene yesterday and admits a wind change caused one of the balloon’s tethering ropes to hit the powerlines, forcing him to descend quickly. “It would’ve been a non-event except when the lines touched they should’ve tripped out but the [power pole fuse] was faulty and turned the whole system off. “There wasn’t any damage to the balloon and it [has] just had a 100-hour [maintenance] check and it’s good as gold.” Daredevil Berry was onboard with McLellan and one other person when the crash landing happened: “I was just going to do a jump at the end of the day but the wind changed – because we were tethered to the ground it caused a bit more difficulty,” he says. “Hugh used his exceptional flying skills and got us down safely."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Solar Balloons

This video link has just started rearing its head all over the place.

If you want a better way.. try Steve Griffiths excellent explanation of solar tetrahedron.

Its funny that solar balloons are back in the news as just yesterday I put some pictures on facebook or er um well er....

I may or may not have been involved in a UFO report. But its Sean Wakeford actually releasing it not me. So it was him your honour. We flew this from Nottingham Road in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa two years ago.

It went flipping well we chased it for about 15km before it climbed out of view, even with binoculars.

It may or may not have stopped traffic on the N3 highway and R103.

At take off it looked like some bin bags knotted together but once past about 200' it filled right out and became a gently spinning doughnut in the sky. Seans wife had spray painted one side silver and that made it glint as it rotated.

People rang into the local radio station and it even made the paper. I hopped on a plane to Kenya the next day so was out of the way for all the flack.

Deep Joy.

And if as they say around here you really want to go mal, you could always build one to actually take you flying.

Fabulous looking stuff there.


For Sale ZS-HPY in South Africa

The proposed sale of this balloon appears to have fallen through. Hazel needs to sell this balloon now.

The artwork has been removed and we have repanelled the cap.

This is really a great deal for a trainee or new pilot.

The balloon comes with instruments, radios, trailer, fan, tanks, etc so it will be complete and ready to fly. The burners are Cameron Mk 4 so there is a lot of value in this sale. I expect that including the few bits and pieces necessary to get the Authority to Fly renewed, and replacing the trailer cover, this will go for just under R80 000,00.

If you are interested, get in touch with Felicity Clegg

I-Stockphoto Images

Just found some very nice images that could be useful if you are a balloon operator in England.

Or anywhere else that looks like it...

Balloon Festival Job


Montpeliers Farm Ltd, based in Writtle, Chelmsford and recently awarded the 'Best New Company' in the Mid Essex Business Awards are looking to recruit a full time Administrator/Assistant.

This is a new, exciting and challenging role in a progressive new venture already dealing with events such as The Essex Hot Air Balloon and Kite Festival, 'V' Festival, Race for Life and The Essex Young Farmers Show.

The successful candidate chosen for this great opportunity will not only be working on a number of projects with the Events Manager but also assisting the Director with the day to day running of the company. Because of the nature of the position you will be required from time to time to work out of '9am-5pm' office hours and often weekends, you will also hold a full UK driving licence and be prepared to work on your own initiative.

If you are interested in becoming part of this exciting new team, please apply either in writing enclosing your CV to: Andrew Green Director Montpeliers Farm Ltd Margaretting Road Writtle Chelmsford CM1 3PL or e:mail to

Thailand Grand Festival

Looks like the chaps are busy tethering at this festival

Very pretty sunflowers.

The hills and valleys of Mae Hong Son, one of Thailand's most naturally scenic areas, turn to gold when the Dok Bua Tong wild sunflower (Tithonia Diversifolia) comes into full bloom during this period.
When the flowers fade, the seeds are collected and made into insecticides.When the flowers fade, the seeds are collected and made into insecticides. Doi Mae U-kor mountain peak in Khun Yuam district of Mae Hong Son is considered to be the an excellent location to enjoy the splendour of the sunflowers in full bloom. Contact information: TAT Northern Office - Region 1 Tel : +66 (0) 5324 8604, (0) 5324 8607, (0) 5324 1466 Fax : +66 (0) 5324 8605 E-mail :

Thailand Ballooning

Ah Thailand, a place where I had the pleasure of teaching the first Thai pilots more years ago than I care to think. I had some fabulous flights in Chaing Mai, stacks of temples.


HS-SMG a Cameron 140 balloon had its maiden trip from Chiang Mai's Doi Saket Balloon Adventure Thailand base on 05NOV2007.

We will be glad to e-mail you more pictures of the maiden trip and the new balloon. We can also send you our e-brochure if you request to.

Our rates remain unchanged for the season @ 8.800Baht** or equivalentBalloon Adventure Thailand offers now a daily capacity of upto 16 passengers a day**.HS-SMG is the third hot air balloon in the fleet, and will be based @ Doi Saket with HS-FLY.

HS-balloons are balloons registered in Thailand, this means that such balloons are certified by the Thai DCA, the official body that checks the airworthiness of all legal airships in the Kingdom.

This body also checks the pilot licenses and their insurances. (Passengers or tour operator's or DMC's representatives, are most welcome to check all these certificates as well as the airships logbooks prior to take off @ Doi Saket's Balloon Adventure Thailand base or @ any location in the Kingdom where we are to operate.)

Better Balloon Times

When I first started putting balloon stories that I came across online, I did'nt for a moment think there would be so many grim ones.

All a matter of timing I guess.

So I would really like it if you have a first solo story or something else thats really excited you, for you dear reader to contact me.

We can have some more light hearted stuff inbetween as well then.

The serious side of ballooning cannot be ignored. In every life a little rain must fall. We should all discuss things that make us uncomfortable in an open space, Aunty Monkey gets my vote. If one person passes on one tip that keeps one pilot safer then it will be worth it.

I am aware that these things get politicised very quickly and camps form, maybe for the good of sport ballooning pilots and crew should try and cut through all the crap.


Happy Montgolfier Day

My maths makes it er um er 2007-1783= balloonings 224th birthday.

Blimey those blokes in aircraft really are the new kids on the block.

We have history whilst they simply have habits.

Whatever special flights you are undertaking today or perhaps parties, have a good one.

Gary Mortimer 21-11-07

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Archimedes refresher: How a hot air balloon works

Humm just how much can a professor of physics get wrong in one very small article. Not his fault I am sure I expect the reporter modified it all a little.


An Archimedes refresher: How a hot air balloon worksBy: Jin NohIssue date: 11/19/07 Section: News Last update: 11/19/07 at 6:57 AM EST

Any student who has taken introductory physics should understand the mechanics of hot-air balloons, said Berndt Mueller, James B. Duke professor of physics.
"The Law of Buoyancy states that any object immersed in gas or liquid, which in this case is gas, has an upward force called buoyancy that equals to the weight of the displaced cold air," he said. "The buoyant force has to be larger than its own weight and whatever it is carrying on the balloon."

Hot air is less dense than cold air and because the density of air relates inversely to its temperature, when the hot air balloon is heated to 120 degrees Celsius, the balloon is less dense than its outside environment.

Mueller added that other sources can be used to lift the balloon.
"You can fill it with helium, which is also less dense than air," he said. "But that is relatively more expensive. Hot air is cheap because you just have to heat it. There are also solar balloons, which you could use where there is a lot of sunshine. But hot air is easier to control because you can change the amount of heat."

Navigating the balloon, however, is much more difficult, Mueller said.
"You control going up and down by controlling the temperature and volume of hot air," he said. "Otherwise, it depends on the wind and there's really nothing for you to steer very well. So you don't want to go up when there is strong or variable wind."

Pilots can navigate to a certain extent by shifting altitudes, said April Persons, a ground crew member of Above and Beyond Hot Air Balloon Company.
"Winds at different altitudes go in different directions," she said. "So if you want to go a little more right, you can shift your altitude and catch a right."

A balloon also has a turning vent, which the pilots open to steer the balloon, Persons said.

Steamboat Springs Balloon Meet

This very simple image and story of a few words caught my imagination.

Looks like the students are having fun being part of the balloon festival in their own way.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Witnesses describe winds that led to balloon crash in Iowa

Sharon Dunn, (Bio) sdunn@greeleytribune.comNovember 17, 2007 Comments Print Email

The high winds didn't take many residents by surprise Friday morning in a small farming community in Franklin County, Iowa.But the winds would ultimately take the lives of two Colorado residents flying cross-country in a helium balloon. A third passenger survived.That man, Doug Chaplin, 58, of Albuquerque, N.M., saw John Korth arrive at the crumpled balloon basket that had just fallen 60 feet to the ground and asked him for help."He said they left like Wednesday from Colorado, and ... they had been in the air the whole time," said Korth in a phone interview Friday night.Chaplin was in a helium balloon piloted by Dr. Thomas Boylan, 62, who was a doctor at a pain management clinic in Fort Collins, and Bradley Brookhart, 37, of Littleton. Both Colorado men died at the scene.

The men had taken off around 11 p.m. Wednesday from Greeley on a cross-country flight. Another balloonist, Troy Bradley, of Albuquerque, who has flown balloons since 1976, launched from Greeley in a different balloon in which he was attempting to add another record to his list of accomplishments."Troy was trying to set the world distance and the world duration records for the smaller size helium balloon he had," Greeley resident Tim Cole said Friday morning, attempting to allay fears of UFO sightings some in Greeley had thought they'd seen Wednesday. "Tom was flying a larger helium balloon as a training flight."Both balloons had lighting to permit flight at night, and Cole said Greeley is a good launching area because it's away from most major flight paths. Also, they launched from the Greeley area because Cole -- who has become well-known for planning and overseeing world record flights -- lives in Greeley.Bradley's balloon was still in the air, east of the crash site, and according to media reports, he was unaware of what had happened.

Moments before the crash, Marillyn Korth was working to get her shoes on so she could wave at the balloon from her porch."It was really very exciting to see the balloon and to have it turn out so bad, that was not fun," said Korth, 72. "It was quite windy here, and it looked like it veered to the left and the balloon itself took off. ... I thought it was unusual for a balloon to be in the air. Out here on the plains, it blows a lot. Our friend called and said it was going quite fast."She had called her son, John, to look, too.He watched, as it suddenly seemed to get hung up mid-air."I thought it was really windy for a balloon," the 44-year-old said. "My mom and dad called me, because we don't have that many balloons come through. I stepped back in for two steps, and I walked back out and thought, 'These guys are pretty low.'"Then I noticed, something's not right. The basket started to do funny things. They were caught in the highline wire, he said, adding that a truck driver who also stopped said he saw the men throwing sand out of the basket, as if to give them enough height to clear the lines."They were swinging pretty hard, and the wind was pretty hard, and it hung out there for a while," Korth said, then the cables attaching the balloon to the basket just snapped, he said."The basket fell to the ground, and I'm trying to dial 911," he said. "It was just freaky. I realized the call time was 9:11 a.m."Dick Johnson, a reporter with the Globe Gazette in Mason City, Iowa, responded to the scene about 40 miles from Mason City."The basket was on its side, and the balloon was a good half-mile to the north," Johnson said, noting that the balloon straps lay on the power lines when he arrived on scene around noon (around 10 a.m. Colorado time) Friday. Johnson said the power company was called to shut off power to the line to remove the straps, as emergency crews waited for investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration.Korth said Boylan and Brookhart, both face down, were dead when he spoke with Chaplin as they waited for paramedics. Chaplin, who landed face up with Boylan face down on top of him, told Korth his ground crew was driving about eight hours behind them and was somewhere in Nebraska."You know when you're waiting for help, it seems like forever," Korth said.His mother didn't see the men, as she waited outside the cow pasture that they had landed in. Later Friday, her thoughts again turned to the weather."Everyone's gone, and everything is quiet, and we have a beautiful moon shining here," she said Friday night. "It was a tragedy, but I guess it was a man doing what he liked to do. ... We just want to send our sympathies out to the families."Contacted later Friday, Cole said Boylan's family wasn't yet ready to talk and would appoint a spokesperson today. Chaplin was listed in fair condition at North Iowa Mercy Hospital in Mason City.-- Tribune reporter Mike Peters contributed to this report.CRASH FACTS* The course: Launched form Greeley around 11 p.m. Wednesday, landed in Omaha Thursday night, expected to land in eastern Iowa at sunset Friday.* The craft: Helium-powered balloon* Who died: Dr. Thomas Boylan, 62, Fort Collins; Bradley Brookhart, 37, of Littleton.* Survivor: Doug Chaplin, 58, of Albuquerque, listed in fair condition at North Iowa Mercy Hospital in Mason City, Iowa.Difference between hot air and Helium balloons» Hot air balloons fly because the air in the balloon is hotter than the air outside. Since hot air rises, the balloon rises when the air in the balloon heats up. Pilots control their balloons by heating more air or slowly releasing the air, thus allowing it to cool off.» Helium balloons fly because the Helium gas inside the balloon is lighter than the air outside the balloon. They rise when the Helium is pumped into the balloon. Typically, helium balloons are harder to fly.

Troy Bradley, new records.

Well done Troy Bradley on bringing two more records home, will add more when I find it.


For Immediate Release
11/16/07, 2225Z / 1725CST:
At 2225Z/1725CST, Troy Bradley safely landed in 7kt winds in Pleasant Springs, WI. According to his gps, he flew 824 miles in a little over 42 hrs., acquiring two more records.
Take off: 11/14/07 @ 0507Z
Landing: 11/16/07 @ 2225Z (±)

Indias first balloon ride company..

Jaipur, Nov 17 - India's first commercial hot air ballooning venture will commence from Dec 1 here and is a joint venture between the Rajasthan government and E-Factor Adventure Tourism (P) Ltd, the company announced Saturday.
Sky Waltz - as the venture is named - will initially have two balloons with total seating capacity of eleven passengers.
Targeting high spending Indian travellers, adventure sports enthusiasts and foreign tourists alike, Sky Waltz will launch the balloons from Amber Fort and surrounding areas.
Announcing the launch, Samit Garg, director, E-Factor Adventure Tourism (P) Ltd, said, the venture is 'for Indian and foreign tourists alike as Jaipur is a prime tourist destination'.
'Initially, we are commencing service of two balloons but will be adding more balloons along with more locations in Rajasthan,' he said.
Navigated by experienced international pilots, the duration of each flight will be of one hour, with each balloon flying morning and evening, six days a week, depending on weather conditions.
Flights are priced at $350 or Rs.14,000 per passenger for an hour and the cost will include door-to-door pick up and drop service and snacks & beverages.

More on the Iowa incident.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Iowa -- Two men died Friday in a balloon crash in northern Iowa.
Witnesses told police that the balloon hit the top power line before diving 65-feet onto a farm field around 9:15 a.m., southwest of the town of Coulter.

KCCI has learned that Dr. Tom Boylan, 62, and Bradley Brookhart, 37 from Littleton, Colo., died in the crash. Boylan is from Fort Collins, Colo., and had more than 20-years experience piloting balloons.
Rescue crews said Doug Chaplin, of Albuquerque, was flown by helicopter to Mercy Medical Center North Iowa in Mason City. Chaplin had serious injuries. His condition is unknown.
Police were able to talk to Chaplin who told them the crew was attempting to land when they hit the power line, but he wasn't able to explain why the crew was landing. Friday, he was listed in fair condition.
"For some reason (they) were coming down. We got witnesses that watched and as you can see there, they caught the top wire. And at that point the balloon and the basket separated, and it's about a 65 foot drop," Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier said.
The balloon top blew more than a mile north of the crash site.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators were headed to the scene to take over the investigation.
The Trip
The three men originally left Greeley, Colo., on Wednesday night and had an East Coast destination. Their balloon was loaded with gear and supplies for their cross-country trip.
A second balloon that left Colorado on Wednesday was also reported traveling over Iowa Friday. That balloon was piloted by Troy Bradley, of Albuquerque, who was trying to set a a world record flight for distance and duration for the AM-3 balloon. The balloon mixes hot air and helium.
A website tracking Bradley's progress last reported him near Omaha on Nov. 14.
Friends confirm to KCCI that Bradley's balloon landed safely in southern Wisconsin at around 5:09 p.m. Friday.
A Colorado newspaper, The Greeley Tribune, reported that Bradley "easily broke the world duration record, which was 27.5 hours and by Friday morning had been in the air more than 30 hours."
Dr. Tom Boylan
“All of a sudden there was a lot of chatter about a balloon accident this morning and when I heard of the fatalities, I thought that may be Dr. Tom,” Frank Wechter said.

Hours later, Wechter learned it was his friend.

The two pilots met in 2001 flying in the America's Challenge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since then they have flown together on trips all over the country.

Wechter sent KCCI a picture of Boylan in his gas balloon "The Sandman" which he said was likely the balloon involved in Friday's crash.

“Gas ballooning is extreme ballooning because unlike hot air balloons which fly one to two hours, gas balloons are one to three to four days, and you encounter weather,” Wechter said.

Ballooning was something Wechter said his friend loved to do in his free time. Dr. Boylan lived in Fort Collins, Colo., and worked as a pain management doctor.

“The man was sympathetic to people and so he was a people person and he loved his wife and love his daughter, Marilyn,” Wechter said.

Wechter said Boylan was in his mid-fifties and had every intention of flying for years to come.
“He was certainly not a man who would choose to die now, but in terms of living and dying, I think probably he died in the fashion living the way he wanted to,” Wechter said.

Iowa balloon crash kills local doctor

Seems like this is the best place to leave condolences.

A difficult time for all three families, from the reactions on the site, Dr Boylan was much loved in the community he served.

Iowa balloon crash kills local doctorBY MILES BLUMHARDT

Fort Collins balloonist Dr. Tom Boylan and a Littleton man died and one man was injured when their helium balloon hit a power line Friday morning and crashed in north-central Iowa.
Boylan, 62, an osteopathic physician at Front Range Pain Medicine, 3744 S. Timberline Road, was pronounced dead at the scene, as was Bradley Brookhart, 37, of Littleton. Doug Chaplin, 58, of Albuquerque, N.M., was listed in fair condition Friday night at a hospital in Mason City, Iowa.
Reached on her cell phone late Friday afternoon, Boylan's wife, Margo, said she had no comment.

Shannon White, co-owner of Mountain Breeze Ballooning in Fort Collins, said he would have likely been in the balloon basket with Boylan had his wife passed on the message Boylan left on their answering machine Tuesday asking White to join him.
"I'd probably be dead right now," White said. "She just forgot to pass along the message. Usually she is on the ball about that. I think my angels were looking out for me. That's all I can figure because I'm sure I would have been right there. It's not my nature to turn down a flight."
The balloon was descending when it hit the line around 8:15 a.m. MDT. The balloon and the basket separated and the basket fell 60 feet to the ground, Franklin County Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier said. Residents who had come out of their house to wave at the balloonists saw it hit the power line, called 911 and rushed to the scene, Richtsmeier said. They found the basket on its side in the pasture, about three miles southwest of Coulter, which is about 85 miles north of Des Moines.

Fort Collins resident Bob McCluskey, who had known Boylan about 20 years, said he had flown with him and called Boylan a "very conservative pilot."
"He didn't take a lot of chances," McCluskey said, who also called Boylan "a great mentor for me."

On Friday morning, there were high scattered clouds and winds of 15 to 20 mph, Richtsmeier said. Investigators from the sheriff's office were at the scene Friday afternoon and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration had arrived to assist in the investigation.
"Sometimes, with that wind, you get stuck in a situation that has bad consequences," McCluskey said.

According to a phone call Boylan made to the Coloradoan on Tuesday inquiring about the possibility of coverage of his flight, he and a friend, Troy Bradley, were going to launch two balloons from Greeley on Wednesday evening. Boylan said he was going on a training flight.

Paperwork found in one of the men’s pockets indicated they had left Greeley on Wednesday and spent Thursday night in the Omaha, Neb., area. They were flying beneath a helium balloon, rather than a more common hot air balloon inflated by air warmed by propane burners.
White, of Mountain Breeze Ballooning, said helium balloons are more difficult to control than hot air balloons. Helium balloons only have ballasts to release to adjust elevation. Hot air balloons have ballasts and heated air blowing into the balloon to adjust elevation.
Boylan had more than 20 years of experience piloting balloons,
“It takes a lot of time for a helium balloon to respond,” White said. “I’m sure that had a lot to with it.”

White said Boylan was an excellent pilot who was respected and willing to help others. He never flew with Boylan in his basket but went to events where Boylan flew.
“My best memories of Tom were up at Snowmass,” White said. “We used to tailgate after flying and it was a lot of fun. He was a great guy. It’s like losing a family member.”

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Coulter, Iowa, said to be a gas balloon??

COULTER, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have identified the two men killed when a helium-powered balloon hit a power line and crashed in north-central Iowa yesterday.
They are 62-year-old Thomas Boylan of Fort Collins, Colorado, and 37-year-old Bradley Brookhart of Littleton, Colorado.
Injured was 58-year-old Doug Chaplin of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was in fair condition at a hospital.
Franklin County Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier says the balloon was descending when it struck a power line, separating the balloon and the basket. The basket then fell 60 feet to the ground in a cattle pasture.
Richtsmeier says paperwork found in 1 of the men's pockets indicated they had spent the night before in the Omaha, Nebraska, area.

Iowa Balloon Accident

COULTER — The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is en route to rural Franklin County where two men from the western U.S. were killed this morning when their hot air balloon crashed near Coulter.A third man was injured and was taken to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, Mason City, for treatment.No names of the victims are available at this time.Franklin County Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier said onlookers saw the balloon in the sky and saw it separate from the basket about 65 feet above the ground.The accident was reported at 9:15 a.m. and happened three miles west of Coulter, near the junction of Finch Avenue and 110th Street.Authorities at the scene included the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, Iowa State Patrol, Franklin medical examiner, Coulter Fire Department, West Franklin EMS and Franklin County Hospital.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More sad hot air balloon news

Its with heavy heart that I report yet more fatalities this year.

Perhaps 2007 will go down as one of the worst years ever for hot air balloon accidents.

My mind can instantly think of a couple of incidents in the past that involved large balloons so the numbers of deceased were realitively high in single incidents. I don't think I can remember a year in which so many individual incidents caused so many fatalities.

Thoughts and condolences to the families involved.

2 dead in hot air balloon crash near Hampton
HAMPTON, Iowa (AP) Two people were killed and a third person injured Friday after the hot air balloon they were in crashed in north-central Iowa.
Franklin County Sheriff Larry Richtsmeier said the names of the people who were killed and the person who was hurt wouldn't be immediately released. He also declined to identify where they are from.
The balloon was descending when it struck a power line about 9:15 a.m., he said.
The balloon and the basket separated and the basket fell 60 feet to the ground in a farm field southwest of Hampton, the sheriff said.
Investigators from the sheriff's office remained at the scene and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration had arrived to assist in the investigation.
The passengers who were killed died at the scene. The third person was flown by helicopter to a Mason City hospital. That person's condition wasn't immediately known.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blimey its easy to set up over there, Vickers Ballooning

Good luck to them, obviously they did'nt need to go through the pain of an AOC!!!

Best wishes for your new Venture, Vickers Ballooning!!!!

New business goes up up and away over DelmarvaVickers' Ballooning takes hobby to new heightsBy Molly MacMillan Staff Writer

John King photoMembers of Vickers Ballooning Company in Dagsboro stand in front of their basket. From left is Ken Gerard, and owners Lori and Louis Vickers.
Lou and Lori Vickers are full of hot air -- literally.
Their business, Vickers' Ballooning, LLC is approaching its fifth month of operation and the owners are flying high now that they've morphed their hobby into their livelihood.

"I took my first flight in August and two weeks later I was enrolled in flight school," Lou said.
Lou said he took his sister on a hot air balloon ride in August 2006 to celebrate her birthday and found the experience so enjoyable he decided to pursue a pilot's license for himself.
Less than two weeks after his first flight, Vickers was enrolled in classes to become a hot air balloon pilot. Less than one year after his fateful flight, Vickers purchased a seven-story hot air balloon and began Vickers' Ballooning outside of Dagsboro.
"People can't believe how fast I caught on," he said. "I became a pilot in two weeks."
The couple view their vocation as an element of the entertainment industry. They serve a variety of snacks and offer a champagne toast at the end of each flight.
"It's a new adventure," Lori said. "In this business we can cater to people and show them a really over-the-top experience they wouldn't be able to find anywhere else."
The Vickers said a flight is a great way to celebrate a birthday or a personal achievement, fulfill a dream, or even get engaged -- though they have yet to fly a "big question" flight. The company offers gift certificates also.
Connie Frey was recently treated to a flight for her birthday, despite her fear of heights.
"It was phenomenal," she said. "The flight was very calm and peaceful and it was a gradual rise so you don't really feel anything."
Lori is also afraid of heights, but described the experience as "zen-like."
"It's very calm-- you don't feel the wind and you ride where it takes you," she said. "It's quiet and close to nature and you see the world from a different perspective."

Love this, Champagne related foolery

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known dataA hot air balloon rises from the ground with a velocity of (2.0m/s)y. A champagne bottle is opened to celebrate takeoff, expelling the cork horizontally with a velocity of (5.0m/s)x. When opened, the bottle is 6 m above the ground. a) What is the initial velocity of the cork, as seen by an observer on the ground? What is the speed of the cork, and its initial direction of motion, as seen by the same observer? b) Determine the maximum height above the ground attained by the cork. c) how long does the cork remain in the air?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Steve Fosset Amazon Mechanical Turk search called off.

Stephen HutcheonNovember 9, 2007 - 9:50AM

Two months after adventurer Steve Fossett disappeared over the Nevada desert, the plug has been pulled on an experimental online search mission that harnessed the collective efforts of some 50,000 volunteers around the world.
Last week, without warning, online retailer shut down the collaborative search it began hosting just days after the 63-year-old aviator failed to return from a routine flight on September 3.
Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk) site enabled volunteers to pore over high-resolution photographs covering parts of the 44,000 square kilometres of uninhabited wilderness where the physical search mission has been taking place.
The decision to wrap it up was made, according to Amazon spokeswoman Kay Kinton, in consultation with the official Fossett search team on the ground, which is now pinning its hopes on computer-aided image-scanning technology.
It came exactly four weeks after the US Civil Air Patrol ended what it said was "one of the largest, most intensive searches for a missing aircraft in modern history".
The online component of the search reached a similar scale. "Tens of thousands of people participated in the [online] search overall", Kinton said in an email, with "several thousand" participating on any given day,
The Amazon decision, however, came as a surprise to Kenneth Barbalace, an internet publisher from Portland in the US state of Maine who had been scanning the satellite images posted on MTurk since day one.
"We had just gotten all the tools in place for it to become really effective and then they cut us off," he said in a telephone interview.
An enthusiastic supporter of the online effort, Barbalace spent between 10 to 14 hours a day examining images on is computer during the first few weeks after Fossett went missing. Overall, he perused 25,500 photos over eight weeks.
He considers this exercise to be one of the "noble uses of the internet" and has mused on his blog about how enabling volunteers to scour the landscape from their desks could one day revolutionise the practise of search and rescue.
But, in the early weeks of the Fossett search, he had to take a reality check. Poor coordination and communication, the use of images with less than optimal resolution and a large posse of well-meaning but uninformed helpers combined to hobble the online effort.
And according to Landis Bennett, a volunteer searcher from San Francisco who participated in both the physical and online missions, the experiment in mass collaboration even disrupted the official search effort on the ground.

"In the beginning, it was a lot along the lines of the boy who called wolf," Bennett said in a telephone interview.
To make matters worse, some of the online volunteers circumvented the protocol for reporting finds, opting to "go vigilante" - as Bennett put it - and convey their theories directly to the official search coordinators.
He recalled one incident where a man spotted something on a satellite image, insisting it was a strong lead in the search for Fossett's single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon.
Bennett, who is also a cartographer, examined the image and concluded it was old data. "But we ended up going out just to keep everyone happy," he said.
The Amercians' take on the experience is supported by Kevin Pusey, the publican at the Grand Hotel in Kookynie, a mining town about 150km north of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
Pusey is also one of 16 moderators on the Google Earth Community site and he monitored much of the conversation about the online search that was taking place on the forums.
A record number of comments - over 5000 - have been posted on the Steve Fosset thread on the Google Earth forums and Pusey observed that some people were "a bit pissed off" when Amazon pulled out.
Mechanical Turk - named after an 18th century chess-playing mannequin that was dressed in Turkish costume and controlled by a chess master secreted inside - is a site where people perform paid or unpaid tasks that cannot be adequately performed by computers.
It was first used in a similar search mission when Jim Gray, a renowned Microsoft computer scientist, went missing in his yacht in the seas off San Francisco in January. He was never found, but when Fossett disappeared, Amazon quickly put the MTurk experiment back into action.
Thousands of photographs, each representing about 85 square metres of the rugged Nevada terrain, were posted onto the Amazon site initially from data supplied by satellite imaging companies DigtialGlobe and GeoEye.
Anyone interested could sign up and participate in the search by overlaying the recent images onto the Google Earth program. This made it easier to scan the photos and check their findings against the reference point of older satellite shots.
The process of tapping a distributed knowledge base is known as crowdsourcing. It is similar to the way Wikipedia works, for instance. Entries in the online encyclopedia are the culmination of the efforts of many different contributors and editors.

The downside to crowdsourcing is that when every man and his dog jumps in, it can swamp the exercise. And that's exactly what happened in the Fossett search.
Both Barbalace and Bennett say because many volunteers had no idea what to look for, the process began to get overwhelmed with false positives.
"Let's just say that the signal-to-noise ratio was really not good enough to be of much use," said Bennett who flew a total of eight 2½- to 3½-hour sorties over the search zone as well as spending hours online.
The inadequate image resolution meant there was a lot of guessing going on. "People were reading into the imagery and seeing whatever it was they wanted to see," he said.
Like a poorly organised ground search, the online version was literally going around in circles.
Despite the initial hiccups, Barbalace said the experience was gained from the Fossett search could be used to improve the system the next time a similar opportunity arose.
And, even as Amazon was winding down its involvement, the fog was clearing. The searchers were better informed, there were fewer cowboys and the images were of a higher resolution.
"I'm sure [with some refinements] it could become a fantastic search tool," said Barbalace.
And Kevin Pusey pointed out that although the online searchers failed to find any trace of Steve Fossett, they did discover about half a dozen earlier crash sites - vindicating the theory that the wisdom of the crowds works ... sometimes.
:: Official Steve Fosset site
:: Landis Bennett's site
:: Kenneth Barbalace's site
:: The Google Earth Community Steve Fossett discussion thread
:: Mechanical Turk's Steve Fossett page

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wife to sue husband and Cameron Balloons Michigan over incident.

The Star-Ledger

FLEMINGTON A Phillipsburg woman who plunged 50 feet from a hot air balloon after dangling by her rope-tangled foot is now suing her husband and the balloon's manufacturer over the harrowing incident.

Kathleen Long filed the civil lawsuit less than two weeks ago in state Superior Court in Hunterdon County.

Kathleen Long sustained "substantial head injuries" when she plunged through a barn in Bethlehem Township and has not been able to return to work as a corporate executive, said her lawyer, Salvatore P. DiFazio.

"Clearly, the injuries she has sustained have been difficult for them," said DiFazio. "But they're still married" after 27 years.

Kathleen Long is simply protecting her rights, he explained.

DiFazio said liability in the wife's suit will be "apportioned" between both defendants. If the wife doesn't act, the manufacturer, Cameran Balloons of Michigan, is likely to file a third-party claim against the husband that "puts the principal blame on him," DiFazio said.

Andy Baird, general manager at Cameran Balloons, was unaware of Kathleen Long's suit, and declined to comment. Baird did say he knew about the Oct. 30, 2005, accident.