Balloon Tricks

2010/02/19 Bill Heaner looks to jump out of, then land back in, a hot-air balloon.

Bill Heaner is an extremist, but in a good way. Weather permitting, on march 19th of this year (2010) he plans on jumping out of balloon with his paraglider hanging below, then land back in the same balloon a few minutes later.

He's been practicing with the balloon tethered a few feet in the air and acknowledges it won't be easy. Nor is it a given and there are some bad things that could happen. It will require extreme precision control of energy since there is a very narrow energy state that will work. He'll have to dive at the balloon then swing up to it so his body gets to the gondola just after the wing hits the balloon's envelope. It's much like a power-off spot landing and stop where the goal is swooping in, up just a bit then plunking down in one place. But his task is harder in that he needs to hit the gondola in the steepest part of the climb, and must get a pretty steep climb, in order to pull it off.

If anyone can do it, Bill Heaner can! He's an expert kiter who is featured in parts of Master Powered Paragliding's advanced ground handling video.

If the dates work out, I'm hoping to go out and help video tape from the air. After they've aired the footage, I'll use some of it in video 4 on landing. But the primary purpose of getting the footage is in support of TV program they hope to be a part of.

A number of very experienced paraglider pilots are participating and it promises to be an exciting, albeit risky, undertaking. I love precision flying and a good challenge but this one is way beyond me.

Right now they plan on doing it on March 19, 2010. A production company has taken on the project and put together a short video describing the stunt and showing some of the practice. Too bad since I'm working and won't be able to join them.

This is the basic plan:

1. Bill, balloon and balloon pilot climb up in balloon to 7000' AGL.

2. Bill drapes paraglider out balloon, jumps and flies a minimum descent profile.

3. Balloon pilot vents hot air to descend below gliding Bill then matches descent rate so that the balloon is descending about half the rate as Bill.

4. Bill flies toward balloon, timing a dive and climb to end up in the gondola, clinging to a stout netting that has been draped around for easy grabbing.

5. Champaign all around!

2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!