balloons take shape 2018


Gone Whale'n Eh!!!

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A note from the creator...

This year we will be bringing one of our latest creations "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 build our Whale Balloon and fabric was ordered. The computer drawigs 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 our closet in the morning and finding 2200 shirt and blouses, that's how much fabric it took to build the whale.

We generated our own paper pattern sheet 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, maybe up to 24 piece's of the same color and size. The whale only had a left and a right side, except for the two end pieces where we generate a folded piece of fabric to complete the curved surface, it's where your 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 fore and an outside 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,eyeballs, lips (upper and lower), and some teeth (48 to be exact). There's 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 pieces. So now let's start the sewing. When completed we would have used 108 km of thread. That's a lot of thread. The fabric was custom ordered and arrived in late November 2015, due to some family medical issues we did not start construction until October 2016. Our team worked hard all winter until early spring, where 90% of the balloon was completed.

The rest of the construction occurred late summer and we 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. 

May we ll have gentle breezes and soft landings this year in Sussex,

Bill & Sandra (Rolfe) Whelan


Boy & Girl

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A Note from the pilot...

The boy was born in 1997 and the girl in 2000. They got married in 2000 at the Volkpark in Enschede by the Major of the town. They’ve been in love since then and they never stop travelling around the world ! They are both excited to come and visit the Sussex community.

Jacob & Richard Vaillancourt



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A Note From The Pilot...

 The last thing we need around here is another Balloon......

Since 1989 I have been fortunate to fly the skies of Sussex, NB. Our favourite place to fly. I shared with everyone in Sussex and the Maritimes the first flight of my wife Sandra back in the air after her stroke.

She was allowed to fly because I hold a valid flight instructor rating.

Her custom made basket was wheel chair accessible, it was built with a lot of love from our friends.  In  2017 Sandra got another custom alerted basket so she could walk in, rather than roll into the basket. She wanted to stand just Like before.  We altered the basket for her to walk in. Sandra would require a Balloon with turning vents so she could keep the Balloon flying in the direction Sandra was facing. Sandra sits in a bosoms chair ( a swing for adults), while wearing a fall restraint harness. We have two balloons with turning vents, one was extremely small, the other just big enough for two, but only to be flown on cool days. We needed a Balloon with a larger volume so the Balloon would fly cooler on hot days.

Always looking for a fun project I asked our crew if they were ready for another Balloon building session. Last year 2017 we brought our biggest special shape Gone Whale’n EH. That Balloon took us 7 months to build, we definitely had a lot of loving help from our friends.

Gavey came to life during the winter of 2018, so let’s make a fun Balloon. There was already an Alien rocket flying out of our Balloon port, so an Alien Head was not too far behind.

Gavey was created by using all the left over fabrics from other projects.

We made Gavey to carry more weight, but especially to have all the flight controls enter the basket in front of the pilot.

Normally the flight controls are on the side corners of the basket. This Balloon would fly over Sandras custom basket....with flight controls directly in front of her.

Come out and see us during the meet and greet on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Check the posted schedule for times.

A special thanks goes out to our good friends in Nova Scotia. Seth and Catherine who helped organize some flight time over the Annapolis valley for Sandra...

Sandra attended Dalhousie University this summer for 10 weeks of intense speech recovery at the InteRact program...# 1 Speech Rehab in Canada

Bill & Sandra (Rolfe) Whelan