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Boland Balloon

Brian Boland built his first hot air balloon in the early seventies as an artistic project (first flight: May 17, 1971). What started out as the hobby of one photography teacher became a professional enterprise operating balloons and offering the only commercially available balloon kits. Today, Boland Balloon still carries the passion and experimental spirit of the early days. In 1989 Boland relocated to Vermont where he could fly out of his backyard at the Post Mills Airport. The balloon construction facility has been gradually expanded and in May 1997, work was completed on a large extension to the main building at the airport. The new wing houses a Balloon Museum on the ground floor, while the long and open room on the second floor is used to lay out complete balloons for inspection and sewing.

Boland has conceived a very light, collapsible basket for hot air balloons. His design is extremely light in comparison with traditional wicker baskets. The fabric used for the envelope of Boland balloons comes from the parachute industry and is half as heavy as the nylon fabrics traditionally used by the balloon industry. The lightness of the Boland designs allows transportation in a small car and obliterates the need for a special chase vehicle or trailer. The light envelope also makes packing up much easier. In fact, packed up Boland envelopes and baskets are small and light enough to be taken on airline flights as regular check-in luggage.

[A-3 Blimp] [Two Balloon Balloons]
The Boland A-3 Pocket Blimp and two Boland Balloons
(See Basket/Gondola Construction for an image of a Boland Basket)

Boland built his first Hot Air Airship in the mid seventies. It was rather large and heavy and could carry four people. Since then he has improved and simplified his designs. In 1994, he built the A-3 Pocket Blimp, a 51.000 cu. ft. two person airship. Although the performance of the Pocket Blimp was behind the one of modern pressurized airships due to its being unpressurized, it was far ahead in transportability and ease of use. In 1998, Boland built the pressurized A-5 thermal airship in order to address this shortcoming in performance. Because the A-5 borrows engine technology from powered parachutes more resources were available to solve problems specific to hot air airships. Boland also flew the A-5 in the 1998 World Hot Air Airship Chamionship in Gatineau, Canada.

In order to foster the development of homebuilt experimental lighter-than-air craft, Brian Boland founded the Experimental Balloon and Airship Association (EBAA) at the Post Mills Airport. The Balloon Museum and the unique construction facilities doubtlessly make the Post Mills Airport a highly attractive destination for experimental balloonists.

Boland hot air balloons are available in the following forms:

  • Plans & Instructions Only: building instructions guide you through the entire building process step-by-step and let you assemble your own materials. (Balloons only.)
  • Materials Kit: includes all necessay parts and materials plus a set of plans. (Balloons only.)
  • Quick-Build Kit: pre-cut fabric panels shorten building time. (Balloons only.)
  • Balloon or Blimp Building Camp: the builder stays at the Post Mills Airport for up to three weeks and builds the balloon under the instruction of Brian Boland himself, using all the facilities and tools available there. This represents the ultimate building experience and is a great option for pilots who want to build their hot air balloon in short time and possibly learn to fly concurrently.
  • Complete: a hot air balloon or blimp, built and tested by Boland Balloon.

For more information contact Boland Balloon directly. A very complete 90 page Information Kit is available for US$18 ($20 overseas). The brochure contains details about the whole line of plans and kits for Boland hot air balloons from 15'000 till over 100'000 cubic feet of volume, and it is also a good starting point for any homebuilt aerostatic endeavour.

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