Friday, April 28, 2006

Balloonists' Weather Service

Balloon pilot weather A new option for preflight weather planning is available at BalloonCast - Balloon Pilot Weather.

BalloonCast provides side-by-side comparisons for 3 weather stations with current conditions, forecasts, and winds aloft. Sunrise & set are also shown, plus a pilot can check the 24 hour trend to see how conditions have developed. Data updates hourly.

Meteorological codes are translated into English and organized similarly to how weather briefers deliver them over the phone, but here they're easy to print and compare.

Additional features include radar, wind profilers, and a thunderstorm locator . There are options to shift time zones between local and zulu, and temperatures and dewpoint in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit. Graphics for local radar, national radar, and a surface windcast give an overview at a glance.

Best of all, it's real easy to use. Just a few clicks to pick favorite weather stations and when you're flying, and eveything is displayed quickly.

Check the local balloon weather and see how accurate it is in your flying area.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Paper Lantern Hot Air Balloons

A new ballooning related gift catalog is offering 7 different designs of paper lanterns shaped like hot air balloons. The company is called and is expanding from a longterm balloon festival vendor on the east coast into a web merchant. The proprietor, Paul Veilleux, is also a student balloon pilot.

The lanterns are in the oriental style, made from rice paper on a wire frame. They pack flat and open easily. Because of their light weight they'll hang almost anywhere.

Inexpensive lanterns are a great way to give a balloon theme to a party or a room. They're bright, cheerful, and shout "Balloons!" Designs include rainbows, penguins, kites flying, geometric patterns, dolphins leaping, sailboats, and even carousel horses.

Coolest feature? Get the (optional) light kit that goes inside, converting the lantern into an instant balloon lamp. Adds a glow to the room.

The light kit includes a 15 foot cord, switch, and a compact fluorescent light bulb that's equal to a standard 100watt bulb, but without the heat. Or use your own 20 watt (or less) incandescent bulb for a soft, nightlight glow.

These are the hot air balloon paper lanterns, or take a look at Paul's balloon gift catalog.

What's your favorite design?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Artwork tops off a good Balloon

A new site explores the decorative world of hot air balloon parachute tops. Creator Keith Sproul feels that "Balloon parachutes should not be 'plain' They should have a design of some sorts."

So he's set out to document and show off the artwork atop balloons. A 'parachute top' is the round vent at the very top of a hot air balloon that can be opened and closed to adjust altitude. They are usually large, say a dozen feet across or more, and visible throughout a flight from the basket, but not from the ground.

So parachute top artwork is best enjoyed from the basket, or when a balloon is inflating or deflating. Of course, if you have the option, flying over is even better.

Some of the balloon top artwork shows off smiley faces, a roulette wheel, geometric designs, a clock, wizard's hat, and even animals.

This is a really fun site with a simple premise. Be sure to check it out, and if you know of a balloon with a cool top that's not shown, send Keith a picture.

For other sites with pictures of balloons or to learn about the hot air balloon manufacturers who build these beauties, try these listings. And Kudos to Keith for coming up with an original idea for a good ballooning website.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pilot Jobs in Turkey

A few years ago I spent a magical 2 weeks flying in Cappadoccia, Turkey, living with the local pilots and crew. The scenery was stunning, flying conditions as close to perfect as anywhere, a large stream of passengers, and the food was good. The area was hot and dry, full of history. Don't ask about the belly dancer in the basket, I'd thought they were just kidding... When I got back, I'd had such a good time my family was afraid I'd move there.

So, imagine my surprise to see this offer come to me. If flying for a living in an exotic (but civilized) location appeals to you, check it out, there's room for several:

  • For the 2006 - 2007 season we are currently looking for pilots with experience of minimum 300 hours to fly passenger balloons in the best region of the world: Kapadokya - Turkey!!! 300 flying days and soft winds will allow you to land straight on the trailer in 90% of the flights! Spectacular scenery and nice people.

  • Housing, salary, food, paperwork will be provided by the company and 7 brand new Lindstrand balloons are waiting for you + more than 15 new full option vehicles.
    Do not miss this chance of a lifetime to start flying abroad! Send your CV (resume) now to
If this sounds intriguing, please respond directly to the email address above.