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Paper Hot Air Balloon

Written on November 17, 2009 by mimecine

Update: There is home video!

We got to bring one of the balloons outside to launch for the Sam and Jake’s birthday – our wonderful nephews. My sister and her then boyfriend made these for me when I was a kid and my friends still bug me about flying these again. Back then it was a full day of cutting, gluing, and just general papercrafting. Come evening it was time to launch. Our homemade balloons had metal cans that were filled with spirit-drenched cotton – all of the balloons we launched that way ended up in a Hindenburgesque flame – the last one flew great for a while, but since I had attached a string to it – I stupidly thought I could reign it in – pulling that string tilted the balloon so much the flames licked the paper and within seconds a scorching hot piece of metal bounced down around my feets. Well, this balloon is simpler, sturdier and frankly, the design is just much smarter. The flame sits up-inside the balloon, so during the launch phase the flame is shielded by the balloon itself, making the risk of a pretty flash smaller. You need to be at least four it seems – three to hold the balloon open, and one to light the candle from underneath.  Do this on a colder day, the theory is that you need a bit of temperature difference to get this thing off the ground. That night it was maybe 65f so it wasn’t even cold. The balloon get weightless in a minute or two after lighting up. And it takes off. Silently. Fast. Beautiful. Far up. It get’s tiny. And tinier. And tinier. We hardly said anything during ten minutes of following it disappear in to the horizon. It was so simple. Hope the kids liked it as much as I did!

Excuse the crummy pictures, but no-flash pictures at dawn is not really our thing!

We found these balloons in Portugal, but I had seen them used in Mexico as well – my childhood ones were in Sweden – I have an idea that the Portuguese taught  the Mexicans back in the day, and the Swedes picked it up in the good ol’ 70’s, when everyone bummed around and made kites and love. We *sell* these, how’s that for a pitch. Go get them here (and we don’t have many, but we are trying to get some more).

Swedes flying trashbags:

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