Balloon Construction
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Balloon Design Phase
Construction Techniques
Sewing Practice
First Panels
Middle Panels
Farther Along
Finishing The Gores
The Gores Unrolled
Visiting Don Piccard
Putting On The Load Tape
The Panel With The Load Tapes
The Sewing Machine Breaks Down
Sewing the gores together
More sewing gores
Calculating cable lengths
Buying the carabiners
Finishing the Envelope
Safety Features
First Inflation
Panel Repair
Second Inflation
FAA Inspection
First Flights

Before I got my hot air balloon license, I started buying copies of the magazine KitPlanes. I had this wild idea that someday I would build my own airplane. While I knew I would first get a hot air balloon license before a fixed-wing license, I never conceived of building my own balloon.

I learned to fly from Bill Clemons. He and his wife built their own balloon. The balloon I learned to fly in, I bought from a former World Champion. The balloon was really porous and wasn't going to get me very far past my check-ride.

While I was talking with my wife about wanting to build a plane, she said in an off-hand remark that I should build my own balloon. I originally dismissed the idea, but as I thought about it more and more, I got to like the idea.

First off, building a balloon would take a great deal less time and less money than building a plane would. It would be a great way for me to satisfy that building bug without biting off more than I could chew. It would also solve the problem of my old balloon not flying well. Building a new envelope would cost me about $3,000.  Buying a new envelope would cost me about $13,000. So I could save a great deal of money by building my own balloon. However I would not recommend building a balloon to save money. Do it only if you really like the idea of building your own balloon.

The links on the left go through the different phases of the construction process. Start at the top one and go from there.