Chris's Ballooning Page


I started hot-air ballooning at the age of 16 and soon afterwards joined a syndicate which owned an 84,000 cubic foot Cameron balloon called Puffin, registration G-BALD.

Puffin Puffin was an oldie: it had a velcro rip instead of a parachute and the fabric was getting porous. The bottom panels were burnt to a crisp and the basket had a hole in the floor! Worst of all we had no fan so we had to flap air into the envelope manually at the start of every inflation - more like aerobics than aerostatics. Puffin's antique velcro rip

Puffin came to a sticky end at the Suffolk Show when it broke loose from its tether and crashed through a home-made jam stall, also demolishing several tents, a kiddies' roundabout, an inflatable castle and a van. Fortunately the carnage came to an end just short of a line of vintage cars which must have been worth a fortune.

Puffin II

Puffin II, registration G-PUFF, was a Thunder balloon (the prototype of the Viva series) and at 77,000 cubic feet was more compact than Puffin but being made of new fabric it didn't leak and could lift just as much while being far more manoeuverable.

But that didn't stop us flying it into power cables!

Puffin II in France In 1983 our syndicate went to France to celebrate the bicentenary of the Montgolfier Brothers' first venture into aerospace. We drank lots of red wine and made several ascents over the Jura Valley but not necessarily in that order. Over France in Puffin II


Mercator V1.0 screen shot

Mercator is a windows program which converts map co-ordinates between longitude & latitude and Ordnance Survey grid references. It is intended for surveyors, aeronauts and anyone who uses a global positioning system. You can download a copy of the shareware version from my Mercator page, which also includes a screenshot and instructions (hardly necessary) on using the software.

Round-the-World Attempts

At the end of 1987 there were six teams preparing to be the first to fly non-stop around the world in a balloon.
Check on their progress at these sites:

News at
NOVA Online

And here are the homepages for the teams:
Virgin Challenger
Solo Spirit
Breitling-Orbiter 2

The story so far:

Richard Branson was left behind by his balloon which took off without him.

Solo Spirit has crossed the Atlantic and is currently cruising southeast over Eastern Europe, having reached the Czech Republic on Saturday afternoon and Hungary by that evening. On Sunday Steve Fossett had reached Turkey and reported that his cabin heater had broken down and that there were control problems with the burners. Progress slowed down owing to light winds and it was decided to abandon the attempt.

The rival J Renee balloon flight was aborted after the envelope ripped.

Another rival, Dick Rutan, launched from Albuquerque in his balloon Global Hilton but soon parachuted out with his co-pilot after discovering a leak in the helium cell.

In Switzerland, Bertrand Piccard suffered a setback when the capsule of his balloon Breitling Orbiter 2 was dropped while being unloaded from its trailer. The damage took several days to repair. He launched at the end of Jan 1998 but was becalmed and made very slow progress across Europe. As he approached the Far East it became doubtful that he would obtain permission to overfly China and it was decided instead to stay in the air long enough to break the airborne endurance record. The Chinese finally gave permission but too late to enable Piccard to make it round the world. The Orbiter landed in Burma on 6th Feb 1998. Breitling Watches are rumoured to be willing to sponsor a third attempt.

After waiting in vain for suitable weather Richard Branson has now abandoned his attempt until December 1998.

Hello, this seems to be a bit out of date - watch this space...

Round the World Attempts: Recent News Stories from CNN etc

National Balloon Clubs

Balloon Federation of America
British Balloon and Airship Club
Irish Ballooning


Albuquerque Gas Ballooning Association
Austrian Aero Club
Balloon Association of Greater Illinois
Bluff City Aerostat Association (Memphis TN)
Central Texas Ballooning Association
Edmonton Balloon Club list of US Balloon Clubs
Great Eastern Balloon Association
Southern California Balloon Association
The Lighter Than Air Society
Pennine Region Balloon Association
Waikato Hot Air Balloon Club (NZ)

Balloon Rides (UK)

Altitude Balloon Company
The British Association Of Balloon Operators
Virgin Balloon Flights
Adventure Balloons (Hants)
European Balloon Company (SE England)
Anglian Countryside Balloons
K2 Balloons
Floating Sensations Ltd. (Berkshire)
Aerosaurus and Exeter Balloons
Floating Sensations Ltd.- Hot Air Balloon Flights
Great Escape Ballooning (Buckinghamshire)
Merlin Balloons - Hot Air Balloon Flights Over Kent and Sussex
Other Countries


Cameron Balloons
Thunder & Colt
Thunder and Colt Hot Air Balloons & Airships
Thunder Balloons, Colt
Lindstrand Balloons USA
Aerostar (Raven subsidiary)
FireFly Balloons
Head Balloons of Georgia
Ultramagic Balloons (Spain)
Mach Zero Fans
World Balloon (Cameron Dealer)
The Zebedee List: second hand balloons etc for sale (UK)
Sundance Balloons more stuff for sale

Balloons for Sale classifieds
Zebedee List
Balloons for Sale at Micki's Balloon World (TX) - America's answer to Zebedee!

Competitive Ballooning

The BBAC Comps Club
America's Challenge Race
Team US National Balloon Championships 3-11 July 1998
1998 US Hot Air Balloon Championships

Pilot Training

Adventure Flights CA Park City, UT
Airborne Heat Flight & Ground School NM
Balloon Excelsior (Oakland, CA)
British School of Ballooning list of US Balloon Schools
Holmestead Aviation (Nashville TN)
Smoky Mountain Balloon Adventures (Dandridge, TN)
Top Gun (Albuquerque, NM)
Unicorn Balloon Company (AZ/CO)
Windborne Ballooning Limited (Ontario)
World Balloon (Albuquerque, NM)
FAA Examiners
Balloon Flying Handbook: FAA-H-8083-11, at Amazon USA

Airship Links Page

Magazines, Books, Online Resources & Links

B@lloon E-Zine
Balloon Pages on the World Wide Web (Joop de Wilde)
Balloon Life
G-DASH.CO.UK Balloon Images Photos of UK registered Hot Air Balloons
Hot Air Balloon Ride directory (worldwide database)
Zebedee - Aerostat Back Issues
Hot-Air Online
The Art of Ballooning (book)
The Outer Marker Pilot Shop
Hot Air Balloons, at Amazon USA
Lighter Than Air: An Illustrated History of the Development of Hot-Air Balloons and Airships, at Amazon USA


Events List at World Balloon
1998 Balloon Events, North East USA
Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
New Jersey Festival of Ballooning Photo Archive
Ballonfiesta Parkdagen Nieuwegein, 6-7 June 1997
Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In, 19-25 April 1998
Harewood House 1st-4th May 1998
Chatsworth House 9th-10th May 1998
1998 National Balloon Classic, 31 Jul - 8 Aug 1998 (Indianola, IO)
Texas Balloon Fest '98 (11-13 Sep 98)
Gordon Bennett, Paris 12-13 Sept 1998 (in french)
11e Festival de montgolfieres de Gatineau
Alpine, Texas Balloon Rally
Howell Michigan Balloon Festival 1999
National Balloon Classic 2004 Indianola, IA

Balloonists' Homepages

Please contact me to be moved to the "Balloon Rides" section

World Wide Web Balloon Pages Compiled by Joop de Wilde - The Netherlands
Airship and Balloon Websites
Julian Nott
The Internet Ballooning Database
Wojo's Balloon Pages
Over the Rainbow Ballooning
Scandinavian Balloons AB (in Swedish)
Murfs Hot Air Ballooning Page (Ireland)
C & J Flyaway Hot Air Balloon Team
Home of DYNASTY Hot & Cold Balloons
Jon Radowski's Ballooning Page
Micki's Balloon World
Jeroen's ballooning pages
Air Ventures Hot Air Balloon Flights Inc
Eagle Balloons!
Energizer Bunny Hot Air Balloon
Jacqui's Ballooning Page
Ballooning with Jeanne & Tom Sharpee
The Internet Ballooning Database
Royal Flush
Pete's Hot Air Balloon Pictures
Viewfinder Balloon Team (Atlanta, GA)
Paul Vincent Craven's ballooning page
Swiss balloons
Dreams Come True "The Balloon People" (NE Ohio)
World Balloon - The Southwest's Oldest and Most Complete Balloon Company
Brian Trowbridge High Flying Home Page
Paul Craven's Balloon Page
Paul Craven's Ballooning Pages
Julian Nott's home page
Yorkshire Flight Centre - Ballooning & Flight Simulation


A Life in the Air Bruce Comstock


CNN - Weather
Airport Information and Weather
Inellicast Weather Images
The Weather Channel - Weather Maps
WeatherBank's International Meteorological Data
AirNav: Airport Information (frequencies, weather)
The United States Naval Observatory (for daylight hours)
Sun or Moon Rise/Set Table for One Year
COLA-IGES Weather & Climate Images
Southern Hemisphere Winds and Divergence
AgDayta Weather Forecasts
Texas A&M Weather Page

Model Hot Air Balloons

Model Montgolfiere from the Science Store
Overflite Model Hot Air Balloons
Identified Flying Objects
Trash Bag Hot-Air Balloon
Make Your Own Flying Hot Air Balloon (plans for sale)
Ballon Sport Bolling


Airship and LTA Museums
National Balloon Museum Indianola, IA
British Balloon Museum and Library
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
Blastvalve list of Ballooning Museums


Netscape Directory: Hot Air Ballooning
Don Piccard Balloons
Hi Res Gamma-Ray & Hard X-Ray Spec (HIREGS) Balloon Flights in Antactica
Silver Shadow Balloon Record Flight
Balloon & Airship World Records (Classes A & B)
FIA - Information
Aviation Model Forecasts (North America)
Desert Designs (ballooning designs, T-shirts etc)
Ballooning Pages at Albuquerque Journal
Balloon Promotions, Inc
Aircotec: Air Computer Technology
Dansk Ballon Service
Balloonmeister Don Kersten by Glen Moyer
The Balloon Preservation Flying Group (West Sussex)
Astronomical Ballooning
CIA Balloon & Airship Statistics 1998
Ferne Saltzman Balloon Photography
Jack Jitters - The Ideal Balloon (Piccard) A Glance The Joy of Ballooning
Tasman crossing by Dick Smith & John Wallington
History of the Small Balloon
Robin Batchelor took this picture of a Blenhiem Palace from a balloon when he landed he says, "The farmer brought us 8 cups of tea for all the passengers
Oxford Balloon Fiesta at Cutteslowe Park
One Thousand Feet Over Florida - In a Balloon
Hempleman-Adams sets off for Pole by balloon - 29/05/00
Bumpy ride as Briton sets Arctic records - 30/05/00
Balloonist's homage to a golden era - 30/05/00
Pioneers' end still a mystery [Andree] - 30/05/00
Briton sets off to North Pole in balloon - 30/05/00
British balloonist passes mid-point of polar quest - 30/05/00
High spirits as balloonist stays on course for Pole - 31/05/00
Arctic balloonist in sight of Pole - 01/06/00
Alert weatherman keeps polar balloon on track - 01/06/00
Balloonist on top of the world - 01/06/00
Balloon Briton flies to North Pole success - 02/06/00
Polar balloonist heads home - 03/06/00
Crash landing has Polar flier in fear of his life - 04/06/00
David Hempleman-Adams
Himalayan balloon ride may be next challenge - 07/06/00
Pole balloonist's 'record' is ditched - 11/08/00
Fresh bid for balloon record (110 at Bristol) - 11/08/00
Balloonists break European record (132 at Bristol) - 12/08/00
High winds delay balloon launch - 28/08/00
New high-tech Mars balloon not full of hot air - 04/09/00
Gordon Bennett 2000
Balloonists praise Scottish welcome - 25/09/00
Six die as balloon hits cables and bursts into flame - 27/08/01
Briton plans Everest balloon feat - 08/09/01
Party balloon flight to break record - 28/10/01
Balloon adventurers eye weather - 09/07/02
Andy Elson
British explorers test balloon flight - 14/08/02
Voyage into the Stratosphere
Balloon adventurer to tackle Atlantic in a wicker basket - 23/08/02 David Hempleman-Adams
The man who jumped to Earth - 06/09/02 Michel Fournier
Balloon altitude attempt postponed - 24/09/02 Andy Elson and Colin Prescot were aiming to ascend above 40 km
Bad weather delays trip to the edge of space - 25/09/02 Andy Elson, who has been on standby for three months, said he hopes the attempt, off Cornwall, can now be made next spring or summer
Balloon challenge has shaky start - 24/09/02 British explorer David Hempleman-Adams has begun his record-breaking transatlantic balloon flight with a troubled take-off in the United States
Atlantic balloonist rises above his fears - 25/09/02 On a small American airfield, the British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams has made a shaky start to his attempt to become the first person to cross the Atlantic in a balloon with an open wicker basket
Balloonist heads for the Atlantic - 25/09/02
Atlantic balloon flight abandoned - 25/09/02 David Hempleman-Adams called off his attempt after encountering problems with the auto-pilot
Rising above it all - 01/11/02
Diet for balloon record duo - 05/06/03
Strato-plane looks skyward - 24/06/03 balloon altitude record attempt will be filmed by solar powered plane
'The wife knows what I'm doing this time' - 26/06/03 David Hempleman-Adams hopes to cross the Atlantic single-handed in a balloon
Nasa strato-plane crashes - 27/06/03 The Helios altitude mark could be beaten in the next few months by Zephyr 3, a British UAV that plans to fly to 123,000 ft (40 km)
Balloonists' rehearsal for record bid - 10/07/03 Colin Prescot and Andy Elson
Balloonists' rehearsal for record bid - 11/07/03 same headline; new story
Campaign seeks forest canopy's secrets - 11/07/03
Balloonists prepare for record flight - 31/08/03
Countdown to record balloon attempt - 01/09/03
In the footsteps of balloon adventurers - 01/09/03
UK balloon bid put back - 02/09/03
Balloonists vow to come back - 03/09/03
Balloon goes up . and down - 04/09/03
Balloon pilot sets Atlantic record - 29/09/03
British adventurer's balloon record - 30/09/03 David Hempleman-Adams has become the first person to cross the Atlantic in an open wicker basket hot air balloon
New balloon record attempt - 21/01/04 Andy Elson and Colin Prescot will attempt to break the world altitude record in summer 2005
Explorer plans daredevil feat - 19/02/04
Balloonist plans altitude record - 19/02/04
Explorer 'breaks altitude record' - 23/03/04 Mr Hempleman-Adams reached his target height of 37,000 feet one hour 15 minutes after take-off from Colorado
No charges after balloon attempt - 06/05/04
Dinner and dive from air balloon - 30/06/05
Balloons in sea-flight record bid - 08/05/05
Indian sets balloon flight record - 26/11/05 Vijaypat Singhania has beaten the altitude record for a hot-air balloon
Indian reaches 69,852ft to claim balloon record - 27/11/05
In pictures: Balloons over New Mexico - 05/12/05
Project Nova takes to the skies - 13/09/06 helium balloon takes photo from space (30km above Cambridge)
Gordon Bennett! Who was he? - 03/01/07
The 'mad Englishman' sets a new record - 14/01/07 Mr Hempleman-Adams endured temperatures of minus 60C to fly his balloon to 32,500ft
Priest missing on balloon flight - 22/04/08
Balloon blows away free fall record bid - 27/05/08
Jump record fails to take flight - 27/05/08
US balloon flight in armchair - 06/07/08
Body of ballooning priest found - 29/07/08
Balloonists celebrate 30 years of the annual International Balloon Fiesta in Bristol - 07/08/08
NASA tests super-high-altitude balloon - 08/01/09
US runaway balloon lands in field - 15/10/09
Skydiver Felix Baumgartner seeks to break sound barrier - 22/01/10
French balloonist Jean-Louis Etienne claims Arctic first - 11/04/10
Gordon Bennett balloon race competitors lift off - 25/09/10
One British team left in Gordon Bennett race - 27/09/10
British balloon race team in last three flying - 29/09/10
Hydrogen race balloonists missing in Adriatic storm - 29/09/10
Search for missing Gordon Bennett balloonists continues - 30/09/10
No sign of American balloonists lost in Adriatic on epic long-distance race - 02/10/10
Inquiry into missing gas balloonists expected - 02/10/10
Bodies of missing US balloonists found off Italy - 06/12/10
Tributes paid to US balloonists after remains are found - 06/12/10
Nine-year-old boy becomes world's youngest hot air balloonist - 04/06/11
World record 343 hot air balloons take off at the Lorraine Mondial festival in France - 27/07/11
Skydiver Felix Baumgartner planning 36km record bid - 06/02/12
Daredevil Makes Test Jump at 71,581 Feet - 16/03/12
Hot air balloons take part in the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2012 - 10/08/12
A man on ledge, 23 miles up and no fear - 08/10/12
Felix Baumgartner jumps from space - 14/10/12
Why Baumgartner's record dive almost didn't happen - 01/11/12
Jonathan Trappe's daring bid to cross the Atlantic Ocean using helium balloons - 08/11/12
Great War Memorial Balloon Race Little Rock
Building a Balloon in 22 Days
Hot air balloon crashes into Netherlands lake - 24/07/13
US pilot forced to end Atlantic cluster balloon flight - 13/09/13 Jonathan Trappe
Unlikely tales from ballooning's early history - 07/11/13
China man in balloon bound for disputed islands crashes - 01/01/14
Space tourism: firm taking bookings for balloon rides to 100,000ft - 15/05/14
Anthony Smith - obituary - 16/07/14
Thousands flock to 2014 Bristol Balloon Fiesta - 08/08/14
Victorian Strangeness: The great balloon riot of 1864 - 08/08/14
The hot air balloon that flies underground - 30/09/14
Google's Alan Eustace beats Baumgartner's skydiving record - 24/10/14
Balloonists surpass world distance record - 30/01/15

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