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  #1  
Old 08-23-2012, 10:06 PM
Noah's Avatar
Noah Noah is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 952
Default A Homebuilt Ultralight Hot Air Balloon for my RV-7A

After the first flight of my RV-7A last October, I started to get a little empty nest syndrome in my workshop. No parts lying around that needed to be worked on, so I decided I needed a new project. Nothing that would take years, mind you. I have been building and flying hot air balloons for 25 years, and thought it would be cool to build an ultralight hot air balloon which would fit in my RV-7A.

I had built a single place hot air balloon (called a "cloudhopper" in ballooning parlance) 6 years ago, but it would not fit in the airplane, although parts of it could be used in this new system, including the "envelope", or fabric portion, and the burner. The "bottom end" would be pretty much new, and would need to be very minimalistic, with no basket - just a harness, to fit in the airplane. We all know that aircraft are a series of compromises, and this is no different, with the size and weight constraints that the RV imposes. Unfortunately, I cannot take a passenger when hauling this system unless I borrow a balloon fuel tank when I arrive.

Tomorrow I will realize a longtime dream to fly to some far-flung destination and bring my balloon in my RV. There is a small balloon festival way up in Presque Isle Maine, an 8 hour drive or a 2 hour flight in the RV.

Last weekend, after doing a test fit of the balloon in the plane, I did the first flight of the new system, and it was really fun. Strange not to have a basket, and to have your legs dangling down. The whole system weighs 112 Lbs, and carries 10 gallons of propane (42 Lbs) - enough fuel for around a 75 minute flight. The envelope weighs about 55 Lbs, and holds 25,500 cubic ft of air at around 225 degrees F. The system is around 38 ft diameter, and 50 ft. tall when inflated. The harness is made for paramotoring. There is a custom built swivel so that the pilot, harness, burner, and tank can rotate independent of the balloon envelope, so you can still see where you are going if the balloon rotates (which it frequently does).

Balloons are normally inflated with a small gasoline powered inflation fan, but mine will not fit in the plane without modifications. So I am planning to borrow a fan on arrival, or, -this is the cool part - use the RV's 74 inch "inflator fan" to inflate the balloon prior to heating the air and making it buoyant. I hope to bring the system to OSH next summer.

Here are some photos of the system and the first flight...

[IMG] [/IMG]
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Noah F, RV-7A

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. -T.E. Lawrence
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  #2  
Old 08-23-2012, 10:15 PM
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DanH DanH is offline
 
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Now there's the coolest thing I've seen lately.

Noah....plans! Can we get plans?
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  #3  
Old 08-23-2012, 10:43 PM
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N9331v N9331v is offline
 
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Now that's cool 👍
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  #4  
Old 08-23-2012, 10:58 PM
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Greg Arehart Greg Arehart is offline
 
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Location: Delta, CO/Atlin, BC
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VERY slick. I like it - another thing to add to my "one of these days I gotta try that" list!

Cheers,
Greg
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  #5  
Old 08-23-2012, 11:02 PM
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rv6rick rv6rick is offline
 
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I want one
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2012, 05:20 AM
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Vlad Vlad is offline
 
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That's The Engineer! To design a flying craft which fits in an RV! I'll catch you up North Navy guy


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Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.
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  #7  
Old 08-24-2012, 05:27 AM
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pierre smith pierre smith is offline
 
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Location: Louisville, Ga
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Default Wow

What kinda money are we talkin' about, Noah?

Too cool!
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  #8  
Old 08-24-2012, 06:05 AM
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Noah Noah is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rhode Island
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanH View Post
Noah....plans! Can we get plans?
Ha ha! Maybe Vans could make kits, we could call it the RV-1/2

Quote:
Originally Posted by pierre smith View Post
What kinda money are we talkin' about, Noah?
Probably $5-6K in materials, Pierre!
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Highest Regards,

Noah F, RV-7A

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. -T.E. Lawrence
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2012, 06:13 AM
pilottangocharlie pilottangocharlie is offline
 
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Location: Newcastle, OK
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Very cool! What is required to fly something like that? I will admit I know nothing about ballooning.
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2012, 06:20 AM
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Noah Noah is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Rhode Island
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilottangocharlie View Post
Very cool! What is required to fly something like that?
This is one of the beautiful things about this system. No pilot certificate is required to fly it, since it is an ultralight, and no airworthiness inspection or certification is required; there is no registration number. But getting some instruction would definitely be a good idea. 14 CFR 103 covers ultralight vehicles in the USA.
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Highest Regards,

Noah F, RV-7A

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. -T.E. Lawrence

Last edited by Noah : 08-24-2012 at 06:38 AM. Reason: Add airworthiness requirements
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