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Cashmanimal

Balloon Jumps

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Hey everybody...

I have tried loking this info up but have found a lot of confilcting information... not that I won't get any conflicting info from a forum, haha!

Anyway, I was curious what the current record is for most ballon jumps in one day.

Also, I would like to know who holds the current highest number of total balloon jumps.

As a former member of the balloon pilot community (flew jumpers one day-- haven't flown since :)
Planning for the future,
-Cashmanimal
It's all fun and until someone loses an eye... then it's just a game to find the eye

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okay, well, don't everybody all respond at once.

Does anybody have what they would consider to be a respectable amount of balloon jumps that the would like to post? A fun story about balloon jumps? Pretty much anything involving the two hobbies of ballooning and skydiving that would keep this thread from becoming a complete and total failure?
It's all fun and until someone loses an eye... then it's just a game to find the eye

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Okay, I'll give you a bump . . .

There are a lot of angles to this one. A record attempt for number of jumps would depend, I would think, on the WX conditions more than on jumper or balloon pilot endurance. I suppose if you flew in the morning, and then again at dusk, you could do a decent number, but your time eater is going to be the time it takes to go to legal opening altitudes and come down again.

Here's a question for you. I realize it would need navigation lights but can a balloon legally fly a night? If so you might have a shot at a meaningful record. But then there'd by those pesky balloon landings in the dark. I'm thinking power lines and things of that nature. Plus the jumper will also be landing in a different place on every jump. And even with a moon, that could be sketchy.

The other option is a tethered balloon. We used to use one to train first time BASE jumpers in the hills behind the Perris drop zone for awhile. We kept it low key (due to the legal issues) but using BASE gear and a 800-foot tether hooked to a huge pick-up truck we could put up a dozen loads of three jumpers or so with no problems. The tethered balloon can also stand a bit more wind, but you must closely monitor the forces involved.

The thing about a tethered balloon is you could very loosely construe that as a fixed object and the record for the number of fixed object jumps in a single day is already so high it would be out of reach in a balloon.

Two "funny" stories for you. I have an acquaintance who'll take me to 600-feet or so in his balloon with my BASE gear every once in a while. He flies the tourist types every weekend and as a CFI also teaches new balloon pilots. The way it works is I hang back, out of sight, while he does his briefing and then I just "quietly" slip into the basket without too much fanfare or anything. Most passengers, those waiting and those onboard, being all excited and everything, hardly ever notice I'm wearing a BASE rig.

The last time I went was a few months ago (getting up that early is tough) and they are running two balloons. I got in with my friend and a guy who is taking his commercial check ride. As we ascended my CFI friend, who can act kind of gruff sometimes, is firing questions at the guy in rapid fire order in addition to getting him to keep specific rates of climb. The funny part is he's telling the guy that when flying with paying passengers there will always be distractions and that keeping the balloon under control at all times is always paramount. Then he added, "Today's distraction will be Nick."

I launched at 600-feet and when I landed the check ride guy's wife came over to me and said I scared her to death. I said I was sorry for that and she said that's okay. "But I thought my husband was doing so badly on his test the instructor threw him out of the balloon."

Another time I jumping with another outfit but this time we were skydiving and going to an altitude of 5000-feet. It was me and three other skydivers and I was the only one who had done balloon jumps before. At about the 1600-feet the "parachute" (the top of the balloon that is Velcro-ed in place and used to spill air after landing) came completely undone. We figured later the Velcro was worn and the pilot was over temping the envelop in an effort to get all the jumpers up that were waiting. The balloon started coming down in a hurry (my alti needle was moving) and I thought great - we are all wearing the wrong gear for this. I won’t say the other jumpers were panicking but it was close to that especially when the balloon pilot started screaming at us to get out. He, like most balloon pilots, wasn't wearing a parachute.

The first jumper to go asked me what should he do? (I don’t think any of them had much more than hundred jumps each). We are going through 1200-feet and I said do a five second delay and use your main. (This was a time before snively mains were the norm.) And the jumper did exactly that. The next one did a real short clear and pull but used his reserve and he was all right too. The last guy just wouldn't go at all. We are now going through a grand and I said I was going to leave him if he didn't go right now! But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Then I went over the side, but before I left I told him if he changed his mind to use the reserve.

I picked up some decent airspeed and deployed my main canopy. I was then sitting a few hundred feet below the balloon hoping I'd make some distance in case the last guy decided to jump. And right then he did. He missed me but passed by still in freefall at about 600-feet. He's on his back and fighting to turn over in the sub-terminal air. I'm thinking, oh man, get something out, get something out now! He finally threw out his main and had a canopy ride that lasted a whole 5-seconds or so.

The balloon was descending much faster than I was under canopy and it passed me. The envelope was a flapping ball of garbage, but not exactly compactly collapsed and I hear the burners going full blast all the way to impact. When we got to the pilot he was pretty banged up and had a nasty cut on his head, but other than that he was alive, just very disorientated.

After he recovered his wits the pilot said he told the last jumper that he was a dead man if he stayed in the basket. And that did the trick. He also said if we had been tourists, not jumpers, we all probably would have died because we would have been so heavy.

Anyway – good luck with your project!

NickD :)BASE 194

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Quote



Here's a question for you. I realize it would need navigation lights but can a balloon legally fly a night? If so you might have a shot at a meaningful record. But then there'd by those pesky balloon landings in the dark. I'm thinking power lines and things of that nature. Plus the jumper will also be landing in a different place on every jump. And even with a moon, that could be sketchy.



Actually, I think I have found the only way I can make this work. As far as flying at night, it can't be done. Balloons can take off in the dark with strobes if the pilot is qualified, but they have to land after sunrise-- anybody who has been to the famed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will recognize the "dawn patrol."

So, this means I could ideally be in the balloon before the sun comes up, and the second I hit that miracle sunrise start jumping. Fortunately, we have a couple of ballooning friends qualified for the dawn patrol.

Like i said, I flew balloons myself for three years, and understand the not-so-well-known danger the pilot faces... your story is quite scary! having been in the sport, I was able to make a few connections, and my step-father has his commercial license, and would be able to provide his flying as well as any connections he has.

My thought process is, being in the ballooning capitol of the world, there would be no more appropriate record, or at least attempt! Of course, weather is a huge issue. I may pick a day where it is great at dawn, and windy by 10 am. And of course, it would have to be on the coldest day possible (BOO!) so there would be as much flying time possible for the balloons!

We usually do our balloon jumps on a wide open mesa, where grid-like roads make navigation on the ground a little easier. My plan would be to gather 6, 7, maybe 8 balloons, and create a caravan. I would take off in the first, and keep the caravan underneath us. Just before I jump, I could radio to the chase crew and tell them to start laying out the next balloon. By the time i jump, land, and grab a new rig, the next ballon should be close to inflated. Meanwhile,balloons that i already jumped from could land, and quite possibly be in a position where i could land right next to it and use it again. If not, they could do a simple pack-up and keep following until they run out of fuel. This time of year, the average ballon could probably do just 2 "hops," or jumps for me, before needing to refuel, would also be a complication. I am thinking refueling could occur during the hottest part of the day when the winds tend to pick up.

I personally think it sounds plausible. I know it would be a lot of work. It may even need to be attempted multiple times, due to weather issues. Thanks for your input! I think it wold be pretty fun to be a "distraction" myself, haha! Genious! Those bi-annual flights and check-rides are tedious and annoying!
It's all fun and until someone loses an eye... then it's just a game to find the eye

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