We expect rapid change in all aspects of our lives these days.
Buy the latest wiz bang thing one day and you find its obsolete the next. Not so in ballooning though. Change is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Man first took to the skies in a hot air balloon 230 years ago. (21st Nov 1783) and it was a scary experience. The balloon was made from paper and silk and the burner was just pretty much just a fire built from anything that would burn. What they had invented, was an aircraft that had an engine that could not be controlled and a shell that had a tendency to catch fire way too easily.
Pilots were brave people back in those days, but not stupid, when someone invented the gas balloon which was both safer and could be controlled the hot air balloon become a thing of the past. A memory.
And so it remained until a bunch of Yankie Hipsters in the sexy 1960′s cobbled together some synthetic fabric and an invention called a propane fueled burner, and so you had a flying machine that was safe, fun and affordable. The modern balloon had arrived.
So what’s different today? Being a Hipster is back in fashion and just like the new Hipsters the balloon is the same but a little different, but better. Fabric technology and build methods mean they last longer; are safer and can be made larger. New deflation systems means that you can stop the balloon once it’s back on the ground. And burners have got hotter and much more powerful.
For a Pilot operating a burner is like stomping on the gas peddle of an automobile. If the power unit is gutless it just isn’t fun.
Luckily for those power sick pilots two manufacturers, Cameron & Kavanagh balloons have recently introduced new power units onto the market that should keep us pilots grinning for the next century or two.
The Crossfire and Safire burners are pretty impressive pieces of kit. Rather than being an upgrade of an old burner the designers and engineers threw away the old motor (burner) sat down and produced a modern high tech engine for a balloon.
These fiery beasts now put out up to 70% more power but at the same time are both quieter and more fuel efficient. The flame is now up to 8 metres long perfect for heating up the large passenger balloons you see in the skies today. They operate much more efficiently with the rubbish fuel (propane) found in some regions. They are light weight, reliable and pretty much maintenance free. They are even expected to last up to 20 years. If you ‘re a short Hipster (like me) you can adjust the height as well. The controls are easy to use and they look HOT.
They are so good we just brought one, the Crossfire. Might just have to take it out for a ‘burn’ around the neighborhood. Come and join us.
You don’t have to be a Hipster.