Atlantic Balloon Fiesta

September 8, 9, 10, 2017

balloons and their pilots 2017


The fiesta committee would like to welcome our 2017 balloon meister Brian Bell. Brian started Ballooning in 1985 with Cross Canada balloons (Mike Cross) while living in Thornhill On. “I got my first ride with Ken Penfold over the Newmarket skies, our reward for crewing.” “Bruce Blanchard and I started our first commercial contract experience with Pizza Pizza under Bell Flight Services. Years went by before John Walters and I concocted Sundance Balloons on his townhouse porch. I think the contract most people relate me to is Hawaiian Tropic Suncare, the Fish balloon, it was always a hit with the crowds from Albuquerque NM to Sussex NB. Sold my Balloon co in 1997 to fly full time in New Mexico. I currently reside in Brantford On, my occupation now is a Network administrator for multiple corp entities.” “My flight experience covers over 3500 flights and countries around the world, I’m not a regular on the festival tour any longer but keep current flying a 210 Lindstrand and a 105 Areostar locally with Skyward Balloons in Kitchener.” “I would like to bring to Sussex an experience the pilots and spectators will appreciate and enjoy, provide a safe and fun atmosphere that all will look forward to in the future.” 


This year 2017 we will be bringing our latest creation " Gone Whale'n Eh!!!". The idea was first presented to me more than 25 years ago by my daughters. In 2015 I found the original sticker that was given to me as a concept idea. We made the decision to built our Whale balloon and fabric was ordered. The computer drawings were generated by our good friend Marcos Bonimcontro from Brazil. The people of Sussex have seen many of his fabulous creations thru the years. 

Just imagine opening your closet in the morning and finding 2200 shirts or blouses, thats how many meters of fabric it took to build the whale.
We generated our own paper pattern sheets from a very large full scale printer, using 1.5 km of paper... we reuse  this paper for other purposes during the year. Once all the pattern sheets were printed approx 1000 units we could start cutting fabric. The whale is not a typical balloon where we would cut multiple pieces at the same time may be up to 24 pc's of the same color and size. The whale only has a left and right side, Except for the two end pieces where we generate a folded piece of fabric to complete the curved surface...... it's where you nose goes on your face...... 

The balloon was divided into many different sections.
There are 16 gores in the balloon, look carefully you can see the vertical sections called gores. There is an inside gore and out side gore. As we cut the panels for each section we put them in separate bins, that's 32 bins so far. We continued cutting more fabric, one for each appendage, side fins, tail fins, dorsal fin,, eye balls, lips upper and lower, and how about some teeth, 48 to be precise, there was also the lower section where the heat goes in, with the inner wall that keeps the appendages inflated. We had 48 bins in total with more than 2000 pc's. So now let's start sewing, when completed we would have used 108 km of thread. That's a lot of large spools of thread. The fabric was custom ordered and arrived in late November of 2015, due to some family medical issues we did not start construction till Oct 2016. Our team worked hard all winter till early spring where 90% of the balloon was completed.
The balance of construction occurred late summer and received our  C of A the end of July. The next several weeks would be our test flights.

Our team looks forward to bringing our "Gone Whale'n Eh!!!" Balloon To Sussex. In addition you will also find TiKi our tropical fish who can morph into a chicken head if you look at it just right.
May we all have gentle breezes and soft landings this year in Sussex

Bill Whelan & Sandra Rolfe

TIKI the Tropical Fish started out as a concept for a record balloon for Sandra. The balloon was to be made out of the leftover fabric we had from building other balloons. So we had to come up with a design that would use the fabric colors in the amounts we had. As the design began to take shape, TIKI began to take her form. The idea was that we would build her and after Sandra did some record flights, we would add appendages such as the tail. A balloon record needs to be efficient and also, we have to prove the volume of the envelope and the appendages make this a little more difficult. So the appendages would have to wait. However as we progressed with building the balloon, Bill could not wait to design and affix the TIKI earned her appendages earlier than expected. And since she is a girl, and related to Queen Bee, her eyelashes are 3-D as well, and appropriately colored seaweed green of course! The design continued to develop with the addition of seaweed and schools of fish swimming around - so TIKI is swimming through the air with her friends. There are now fish in front of TIKI's mouth - she does get hungry so the fish know to stay beside her! We hope TIKI brightens your day with her happy colorful and delightful shape.