I first saw a post about this a while back at Neatorama, my first thought was the closing scene in the ancient movie “The Red Balloon”, where the kid floats away at the end hanging from a bunch of balloons.
John Ninomiya, who runs the www.clusterballoon.org website, says that same scene was what inspired a lifetime of ballooning for him, and his pioneering work in the field of cluster ballooning. According to Ninomiya, he’s one of six people in the world doing this, and the only guy in North America. And it looks like he’ll be flying at the Great Plains Balloon Race, right here in Sioux Falls, SD, next weekend! (June 8-10) That would be worth getting up at Oh-dark-thirty in the morning to go watch!
From a quick perusal of his site, it looks like the technology of the sport hasn’t advanced much since Larry Walters’ dramatic attempt in 1982. (was it that long ago? Man, I feel old!) Ninomiya uses standard — but very large — vinyl balloons for this, along with a harness designed for paragliders & other gear used by hot air ballonists. Guess a pioneer has to make do with what’s available and custom fabricate the rest.
One major advance over 1982 is that Ninomiya carries an altimeter/rate-of-climb instrument, a GPS and a radio for communicating directly with air traffic controllers; much better than Walters’ CB-radio. He also has a better methods of loosing or popping balloons (and reducing lift) than Walters’ pellet gun!
I’ll freely admit this is a blatant attempt to make up for a recent stupid commenting blunder (I won’t point it out; if you’re curious, it’s not hard to find.) I haven’t had time to post much lately, and figure I ought to compensate, even if only a little, by providing a little something fun to the site!