Thursday, March 27, 2008

Padded Tank Covers

When the landings get fast, knees and other body parts are at risk of getting bruised banging into the metal fuel tanks in a balloon basket. So many pilots outfit their system with padded tank covers to protect themselves and their passengers. This works quite well.

Padded tank covers for a hot air balloonMost balloon fuel tank covers have a sheet of foam padding against the tank, and a layer of cordura nylon on the outside. This is a tough, durable combination that stays clean and looks good.

Some balloon manufacturers supply tank covers as an extra cost item, or include them with fancier systems. These generally work fine, but tend to be rather bland. Aftermarket options have a little more sizzle and the builder can add extra touches like pockets or artwork to your specifications. As tieing the drawstrings at the top & bottom can be tough, look for ones with elastic at one end.

Check out the balloon accessories catalog at Stumpf Balloons where you'll find they have padded tank covers for any size balloon propane tank. Even lists the prices.

A little color coordination between the basket trim and tank covers can really make a basket look great.

If you want the ultimate in luxury, then you need to get padded leather tank covers. These look extremely classy and feel good too. You won't find them mentioned on the Stumpf website, but if you ask he'll build them. At an extra cost, of course. Ordering a new balloon? Have them ship some extra leather from the same die-batch as the basket trim to ensure a perfect color match.

Leather scuffs easier than cordura, but it's sooo much nicer!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New 3 day BalloonCast Option

They've added a 3 day forecast option for ballooncasts. Shown graphically every 3 hours, it's focused on balloooning needs, so winds and dewpoint spread come first. It also shows ceiling, the odds of rain or snow, and a few other things.

At the bottom of the screen there are radar, winds, and weather map images, plus a cool local airspace map that you can click on and zoom about kind of like google earth.

3day ballooncast imageAvailable now for all U.S. locations, just go to: 3day BalloonCast and click on any state. At the bottom of the state menu page you'll see a new option for the 3day 4cast. Choose your nearest airport, and click "Get 4cast".

This is most useful for planning a flight a few days out. The data is from the National Weather Services GFS MOS product. This webpage is heavy on graphics, so it might not be much fun on a dialup connection. But it's great as a quick picture of what the flying weather will be like the next few days.