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Special Shape Balloons

Special Shapes Balloons - Beethoven's head hovers over a Japanese Pagoda

Beethoven's head hovers over a Japanese Pagoda

Since the early days of the renaissance of Hot Air Ballooning in the 1960's and 70's, balloon manufacturers and designers have created increasingly complicated balloons shaped to suit a special requirement.

To achieve these stunning shapes a variety of techniques are used to hold the fabric at the required position.

The original publisher of the Forbes 500 magazine, Malcolm Forbes had a stunning collection of special shapes. Every time he visited a country, he commissioned a special shape to "honour" the country. So there was an Elephant for India, a Pagoda for Japan, A Sphinx for Egypt and the Santa Maria for Spain. When he was alive he organised an annual festival of some of these shapes at his Chateaux Balleroy in Northern France.

Also from the Forbes Collection are these two balloons that are over 120 feet high.
Pilots have a love/hate relationship with special shapes as they are difficult to inflate without burning them, often take lots of room to come to a stop because the deflation system is compromised by the balloons shape and take ages to pack away (ask the crew about that, the pilot will be unlikely to know anything about packing away!).

Forbe's Santa Maria is a very tricky special shape to inflate because of all the bits that stick out from the middle. If one bit comes up before the others it can be impossible to get the other parts to "pressurize" with hot air and thus assume their correct shape. Experienced pilot Mike Moore from Bristol really had a battle on his hands when inflating at Chateaux Balleroy in the 1990's.

Special Shapes Balloons - Looking up inside Beethoven's head you can see the baffles of fabric used to maintain the correct shape

Looking up inside Beethoven's head you can see the baffles of fabric used to maintain the correct shape

Special Shapes Balloons - An Elephant hot air balloon for India

An Elephant hot air balloon for India

Suliman The Turkish Emperor

Suliman The Turkish Emperor

A beautiful Mcaw

A beautiful Mcaw

More Hot Air fails to help the situation

More Hot Air fails to help the situation

Grand Dame of the Seas looks rather forlorn

Grand Dame of the Seas looks rather forlorn

Special Shapes Balloons - A Sphinx balloon for Egypt

A Sphinx balloon for Egypt

Oh Dear, the stern has gone up, leaving the bow unpressurized

Oh Dear, the stern has gone up, leaving the bow unpressurized

Time to deflate and start again.

Time to deflate and start again.

Special shapes have been made into all sorts of shapes. Often they will be used to promote a household brand or consumer product. Here are a few.

Special Shapes Balloons - The Scottish Piper Special shape hot air balloon

The Scottish Piper Special shape hot air balloon

Agfa Film canister and OS Map air balloons inflate alongside

Agfa Film canister and OS Map air balloons inflate alongside

KP Choc Dips

KP Choc Dips

Special Shapes Balloons - Monster balloon

Monster balloon

Hot air Kiwi special shape balloon

Hot air Kiwi special shape balloon

Shopping with the Ikea hot air balloon

Shopping with the Ikea hot air balloon

Special Shapes Balloons - Chubb fire extinguisher hot air balloon

Chubb fire extinguisher hot air balloon

Stowells of Chelsea wine box balloon

Stowells of Chelsea wine box balloon

The Famous Cadbury’s Crème egg balloon

The Famous Cadbury's Creme egg balloon

And then there are the landings. Whilst Kim Hull was Cloud Hopping across Austrialia the legendary Everest balloon pilot Chris Dewhirst from Melbourne in Australia was flying a special shape designed to represent the Sydney Opera House. With all the "artwork" on the top, the conventional parachute could not be put on the top of the balloon. A side dump was placed below the artwork, but as hot air rises, this was not a particularly effective or rapid deflation system. Fortunately in Australia a "paddock" is about a 200 acre field. Good job, as the balloon took all that to stop in.

As the balloon touches down the pilot furiously pulls on the side

As the balloon touches down the pilot furiously pulls on the side

The dump is opened some more. Note the other balloon basket in front!

The dump is opened some more. Note the other balloon basket in front!

You can see the light of the sun on the right side of the balloon showing the dump being opened.

You can see the light of the sun on the right side of the balloon showing the dump being opened.

And some more as the balloon thunders across the paddock, throwing up dust everywhere

And some more as the balloon thunders across the paddock, throwing up dust everywhere

The balloon continues to drag

The balloon continues to drag

And then spinnakers, picking up more speed before coming to a stop, some 150 yards from it's initial touch down.

And then spinnakers, picking up more speed before coming to a stop, some 150 yards from it's initial touch down.

Special Shapes Balloons - Coke bottle balloon

Coke bottle balloon

Tesco trolley in the skies

Tesco trolley in the skies

Bertie Bassett balloon

Bertie Bassett balloon

Special Shapes Balloons - George the Hoffmeister Bear as a hot air balloon

George the Hoffmeister Bear as a hot air balloon

Churchill the dog balloon oh Yes

Churchill the dog balloon "oh Yes"

Adventure Balloons Ltd, Winchfield Park, London Road, Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, RG27 8HY.
Reg No 4837166

© Copyright 2012 Adventure Balloons