Bupa Balloon’s Maiden Voyage

posted on February 28, 2008 in Nerd

The Sun shone down on a bright crisp Sunday. The sky was lightly padded with high altostratus and the trees were perfectly still. There was no wind. Today she was going to fly.

After several abortive attempts we were finally going to let her loose. We decided against a cotton tether as in the practice it tended to unbalance it and send the fuel spilling everywhere. We would just send her up and see what happened.

We found somewhere fairly secluded, got everything set up, lit the burner, I pointed the camera and told Mark to let her go. With no wind it rose up gently, quickly gaining height as it floated gracefully up over the trees. It was a beautiful moment.

Sadly though I am a smacktard, and even though the camera was pointing at the balloon the entire time, I forgot to press Record. Luckily due to some clever editing in the studio I don’t think it’s even noticeable.


A load of hot air

posted on January 13, 2008 in Nerd

(Or a rough guide to making a hot air balloon.)

I wake with a start. Where am I? Why does it smell like pizza? I don’t remember pizza. My jeans are on the chair. It looks like I had spent the night feeding pizza to them.

I grope around for my phone. If something might help me remember what happened last night it’ll be that. The black box flight recorder that tracks the actions leading up to my crash and burn.

I bring the screen to my face. PIN disabled. Please Enter PUK code. What the heck is a PUK code?

Eventually I get the phone going and have a look at the car crash that is my Sent Items folder. Last text 2:29 to someone called Kerry. “Jerry,” it reads, “think yo’re wei”. What does that even mean?

I sigh. It’s a bad day to be me…

But it’s a jolly great day to be a balloon.

Determined to keep up part 3 of my New Years Resolution, ‘Do more shit’, Mark and I spent an afternoon taping together large sheets of that foil you see people wrapped in at the end of marathons. The aim being to make a billowing huge hot air balloon.

We hadn’t forgotten the lessons of year 10 systems and design technology, and put together a newspaper sized mock up. We partly based the design on some online guides we Googled, but mostly on Mark’s say so.

Hot air balloon newspaper design

Basically we had 3 big rectangles of silver foil, cut them to a taper at the top and bottom and used oodles of sellotape to stick them together.

Mark slicing and dicing

We used a metal coat hanger bent into a circle to keep the hole at the bottom rigid, sellotaping it into place.

Pretty soon we were ready to test it. I grabbed Mum’s hairdryer, inserted the nozzle firmly in the ring and started blowing. She inflated with the gentle promise of a slowly erecting bouncy castle, gradually expanding to fill my entire ceiling.

Hot air balloon in my room

We had been worried about weight, but it easily supported itself.

Of course, we wanted this thing to be self sufficient. You can’t chase it round with a hair dryer. We needed an engine.

We cut a beer can in half and secured it to the bottom ring with three pieces of wire. I couldn’t find any petrol but thought methylated spirits ought to do the trick. Time for the test flight.

Hot air balloon


Coming soon, the maiden voyage…