Proper Inflations

So, We have all had them. We have all had those inflation’s that we think our head is going to catch fire!
Let’s examine how that happens and how we can avoid the situation.
The first thing we need to do is explore a little bit of physics.
We all know that heat rises! This is a good thing for us, but do you know why? The simple answer is that when you heat the air in your balloon it get lighter by why? Those of you who paid attention in physic’s class will understand that when you heat the air the molecules spread apart making the air less dense. In other words heated air expands and becomes thinner than the surrounding air!
So how does this apply to not getting your face burned off during the summer on a hot day?
Let’s use a simple example of “Action vs Re-Action. You are having breakfast. The server has just filled your coffee cup up to the brim. The guy at the counter next to you decides he is finished and wants to give you his coffee. So he pours his cup of coffee into your “Already FULL” cup. What is going to happen? Your cup can not hold any more and will spill over onto the counter and pour over the side of the counter into your lap! AS you think to yourself Dum~@$$, you should have known that was going to happen!
Starting to get the picture?
You inflate your balloon all the way full, (Packed as some pilots call it) that big ole fan of yours is cranking air into that envelop to the point where you can bounce your crew chief off the side of the balloon like a 5 year old in a bounce house! You light up that monster burner of yours and start cranking heat into that envelope. Where, exactly do you expect that expanding air to go?
So let’s get real technical. 1 Cu/Ft of air weighs .0807 of a pound. Your average 77,000 Cu/ft balloon envelope is around 165 pounds. This means to lift just the weight of your envelope you must displace over 2,000 cu/ft of air! Where will that much air go? You guessed it, back in your face along with a fair portion of the recently heated air from your burner! It’s no wonder you have no eyebrows.
So how do we inflate the balloon to a standing position without removing our eyebrows or seriously singeing the mouth of our balloon?
To be honest it takes some practice and real good timing to do it right. The first thing you want to do is read the article Fan Placement in this category and understand the importance of where your fan is place and when. As you near the point where your balloon is half way full you need to be behind the burners. Add a little heat. Just a few small puffs on the burner. Warm some of that air in the balloon so the expansion process can begin. This will help fill up the balloon quicker, and lift the weight of the fabric too! Now your balloon is going to bounce around a little and you should make sure your crown line crew knows this is going to happen. They should try to keep the balloon in contact with the ground but not pull so hard that they are squeezing air out of the mouth. (Unless you have a 600 pound crew it is unlikely they will squeeze the air out at this point).
Here is where your next Action vs Re-Action lesson begins.
Some will say that you run the risk of burning your balloon at this point since your balloon is not completely full. But lets use the old birthday cake candle experiment. Run your hand over the top of a, lit birthday candle. Did your hand get burned? Now hold your hand over the top of a lit birthday candle. It wont take long before you get your hand burned badly. Well the mouth of your balloon is the same way. Direct contact with flames briefly will not harm the fabric but exposure for any lengthy amount of time will result in a trip to the repair station. So remember small blasts on the burner will not harm the mouth of the balloon when done in moderation.
Let the balloon settle and then give it another shot of heat. As the balloon nears 80% full turn the gas off on your inflation fan. Add a little more heat and then wait. It will take a little practice but you will begin to notice the change in sound of your fan as it begins to run out of gas. Some sputter, some fans the pitch will change but over time you will get real good at knowing just when that fan is going to die. Just before the fan starts to quit start adding heat to begin to stand your balloon upright. You will be amazed at how little heat is needed to actually stand the balloon up at this point and how much less heat you are feeling in your face.
An added benefit of this procedure is that when your balloon is standing up and the crew and passengers are all coming to the basket of the balloon, YOU DON”T have that deadly fan running to catch that scarf or drawstring or any other loose items your unsuspecting helpers may be sporting.
Feel free to post your reply’s below!

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