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September 2023


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Hi Capt. Jeff Thompson,

How is everyone doing this year? 


I know I say this over and over, but… Thank you all for what you do for the Balloon World.  It has now been three and a half years since a stoke, ended my ballooning career, but I still stay involved as much as I can.  Remember if there is anything you need and you think I can help send me an email or call me and toss the idea or question at me.  I would be thrilled to help in any way I can.   This newsletter we will talk about some of the projects I have been working on and some ideas for the future.


I guess I am officially doing basket rehabs. 


Tom Warren the Kubicek dealer for the southeast region has been bringing baskets to me to “Fix UP”  I use that term lightly since some of them are pretty major overhauls but I am happy to do this.  I love breathing new life into a basket that would have been thrown into a landfill, or worse flown to the point of failure.  Scott McClinton came down here to Florida to give me a basket that was a real mess.  Even my wife looked at me when we brought it into the shop and said “Boy I hope you haven’t bitten off more than you can chew on this one”.  I just told her, “One step at a time”  Here is a before and after shot of that basket.





There was one little Aurora, I threatened to keep






We have also been manufacturing Competition Targets and Markers for balloon events. 


While these targets and markers are built to the exact BFA standards for competition you do not have to be a big time competitor to have some fun target flying at an event.  We have made a couple of them for the BrandedTarget.jpg.286ddd8e6f57e62abdce09306ec57c21.jpgAviation Ranch near Cordele Georgia and they have been sent to balloon events who just want to have some fun and fly at a target and toss a few markers!  Contact Tom Warren to ask him if you would like to use a target for the weekend.  He will send you a target kit with everything you need including 40 markers.  He is just asking that you send the kit back when you are done with it.  Check out the event in Anderson SC for videos of them flying at a target for fun or do a search for Aviation Ranch on Facebook.  If you are interested in getting a Target Kit of your own you can check them out on Balloons-andBeyond.com under the tab “Event Gear”  The kit is super nice and comes with everything you need to set up a target anywhere.  Markers are not included but can be ordered there as well.


Speaking of Balloons-andBeyond.com 


We are ordering the next set of Balloon Cups!  We have just submitted all the artwork for approval from the manufacturer and expect to have our order finalized by mid week this next week.  It will be about 4-6 weeks for manufacturing and then we will ship out the cups to each balloonist who is on the cup the very day that they come in.  Here are the Balloons on the new 2023 Custom Balloon Cup.





We did have many pilots who sent in photos but never purchased a case of cups or sent in their information after we had sold all the spots.  We believe the demand for custom cups could be great enough for us to have a second run.  A custom run of cups is 50 cases.  We must make a substantial investment to get them run and then sell off the extra cases over time.  The last run took us more than two years to use up.  So we require 14 pilots to pre-purchase a minimum of one case (500 cups) to get their balloon on the cup.  A case of cups is $325.  This means that if you purchase a case your, per cup cost will be about 65 cents.  A super cheap souvenir to give to a passenger after the flight and they are perfect for the traditional champagne toast! 


We sold out of spots on this run and still had a few others who wanted to be on it.  We limit the number of balloons to 14 so the cup does not look over crowded and that each balloon is large enough that there is no doubt that it is their balloon on the cup.  You can see a nice animation of the first cup HERE.  Once we get this cup into production we will see if there are enough pilots to place another order.  We have also been contacted by several balloon clubs about having a cup done just for their club pilots. We also could do a cup run for an event.  I am happy to answer any questions you may have.


I had a couple of our local pilots stop by my shop last week (as they often do). 


We talk about all sorts of stuff and quite often I tell them stories about ballooning in the 70’s and many of the hard lessons we learned.  They had a great idea.  What about doing a "Talkinar".  I know that is not a real word but instead of a Safety Seminar what about a Safety Talkinar?  You cant get into ballooning without making a few dumb mistakes!  Over the years some (most) of us up with many stories of what went well as well as, what went wrong. 


I have often been told that I should write down some of the stories and maybe I should. 


What about getting a group of pilots together and talk specifically about how YOU do things and things you have done wrong or situations you have seen. 


Here is an example. 


I was up in Helen GA for the Helen to the Atlantic event.  My father was going on a Gas Balloon flight at the event.  The afternoon flight was a go but things had not calmed down.  Everyone was told to use a tie off because of the thermals and very tight launch areas.  I figured I would walk down and help in any way I could.  As I was walking around the balloons I saw a balloon rolling all over the place in the gusty conditions.  I walked over to the basket to see if I could find the pilot.  What I saw seriously scared me to death.  The pilot had taken a rope tied to their pickup truck.  Ran the rope through the basket via one of the tank strap holes around the fuel tank and out the other tank strap hole.  So the entire balloon was secured by a rope around a fuel tank and wicker.  To make matters worse the parachute line, was lying about 20 up inside the envelope.  It was not tied to anything at all.  This means that if the balloon started to take off in a gust of wind someone would have to run INTO the balloon to grab that parachute line to deflate the balloon.  I have tried to deflate a balloon while riding along inside. It is nearly impossible to get enough friction on Balloon Fabric to pull out a straight pull parachute. Then, LORD HELP everyone if that rope tore that tank out of the basket and severed the fuel line!  So what would you do?  I will tell you what I did.. 


In the next newsletter.


Thank you for all you do for the Balloon World.


Please get a paid membership to the site.


Fly Well, Have FUN and BE SAFE.


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Jeff A Thompson.  Admin@HotAirBalloonist.com 407-421-9322

44 year LTA pilot, BFA member since 1977, BFA Level DA-8, Ed Yost Master Pilot. 6500 flights, 5650 Flight Hours

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