The plans presented here are for a 54,000 cubic foot balloon envelope. The envelope is a classic 16-gore, 13-panel design. We chose this design because it is very straightforward to build and is modestly-sized for a first project.
The plans focus on the design and construction of the balloon envelope.
This includes the fabric, webbing, "parachute" opening at the top, skirt at the bottom, and cables to
connect the envelope to the basket.
Most people who build their own balloon choose to have them classified by the FAA as "experimental/amateur-built" aircraft. In order to qualify for this classification the "major portion" of the aircraft must be built by persons "soley engaged in education or recreation." In every case that we know of, the envelope is treated as the "major portion" of the balloon for certification purposes.
We do not cover the construction of
an appropriate bottom end (burners, basket, fuel system, etc.)
Working with these components, in particular the burners and fuel systems,
requires great care and experience. Most home builders, even the most experienced ones, use an FAA-certified balloon repair station to inspect and repair these components. In addition to the safety issue, we also believe that
first-time builders are best served by concentrating their efforts on building an envelope. After you've successfully built and flown your own envelope,
you might then
consider turning your attention to building a bottom end.
Envelope construction is much more straghtforward than bottom-end end construction. Further, envelopes usually wear out much more quickly than bottom-ends. So used basket/burner/tank configurations that have outlived their envelopes can be readily purchased from any number of reputable sources.
The items below give an overall picture of the project: