Vertigo sufferers look away now – new glass bottomed hot air balloon unveiled at the 2010 Bristol Balloon Fiesta

If taking to the skies in the traditional wicker basket wasn’t enough for you then the first glass bottomed hot air balloon is sure to make the knees wobble.

The balloon with a transparent floor, made its maiden flight at this years’ Bristol International Balloon Festa, Europe’s biggest balloon festival. The balloon is designed to carry two passengers and two pilots on glass just two inches thick.

Although the Palletways Dragon Balloon won’t make it easy to keep your lunch down, compared to other designs at this year’s fiesta, it can be considered “sensible”. Among the other 150 balloons joining it in the sky are a motorbike with a helmeted rider, a huge wine box, a Jaguar car and a dog. 

The creator of this stomach-wrenching basket was invented by Christian Brown, who despite many years flying balloons, is the first one to admit this is a “terrifying experience“. 

As reported by flight in an article written in 1967, looking back out how the balloon fired its way into the skies. In the 1950s NASA first pioneered the hot air balloon as a way of brining its spacemen back to earth after the ship had burnt out, the burner was radio controlled and a total of three re-entries were made using this technique.

In 1960 an American company, Raven Industries used NASA’s balloon to begin production. Soon after a British company emulated the success in America and turned hot air ballooning into a sport.

More recently in 2009 the Ultramagic MV-22 hot air balloon brought performance and racing balloons to a new level as a more streamlined shape allowed it to move quicker. 


By Alastair Clark, from Dulwich College, currently on work experience with Flightglobal

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