Cameron Builds Biggest-Ever Hot-Air Balloon

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

The finished envelope was partially inflated inside a hangar, for testing. Images: Cameron Balloons.

Cameron, a manufacturer based in England, has completed a project to build the biggest hot-air balloon ever made, with an envelope 223 feet tall. The one-of-a-kind aerostat is intended for an attempt by Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov to complete the highest flight ever in a hot-air balloon, with the goal to fly into the stratosphere and reach 82,000 feet, high enough to see the curvature of the Earth. Konyukhov has said he hopes to fly even higher, to 115,000 feet or more, to glimpse the blackness of space. The current hot-air balloon altitude record, set in 2005 over India by pilot Vijaypat Singhania, is 68,986 feet.

The new balloon has a volume of 3.5 million cubic feet, compared to a standard hot-air balloon envelope of 105,000 cubic feet. The balloon is now in testing. Cameron also built a pressurized aluminum gondola for the attempt, which will carry the pilot and all the fuel and technology needed to complete the flight. The record flight is planned for spring in 2019, Cameron told AVweb. Konyukhov is currently rowing around the world, working to set a new record, but will fly the balloon during a break from that project.

A rendering of the completed balloon system.

A rendering of the completed balloon system.

The pressurized gondola.

The pressurized gondola.