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FG Hot Air Balloon - $$4.95

A hot air ballon from Fiddlers Green. These instructions show you how to make one from household items, trash bags, etc. Enjoy!

Hot Air Balloons that you can make and fly

Make a Fiddlers Green Balloon and play nice...

fidlers green-orange

This balloon is perfect if you'd like to make a personalized gift for someone special or you might like to advertise your business. It's 8 inches diameter, easy to build and takes just a couple hours or so.

There's instructions on how to build large hot air balloons using tissue paper with a series of photos showing how nicely they fly.

You might want to do one with your scout troop markings or your country's colors. Please send us a couple photos of you and your balloon and we'll put it up on the Fiddlers Green web site. Make a couple flags of your own..Then please take a couple minutes and email us the files so we can share your design with our modeln' pals. Photoshop, PDF, or JPEG formats are just fine. Photoshop Elements program is relatively inexpensive (about $69.)

What people say...

For Sale: Slightly used UFO; ....needs new candle
Noblesville (UPI): Anyone interested in buying a used unidentified flying object should contact the Hamilton County sheriff's office. The UFO, which caused a flurry of telephone calls to police across the county, turned out to be a 6-foot-by-2 1/2 foot weather observation balloon. If the balloon happens to belong to you, you may claim it at the county jail, but you may have some questions to answer.

Nachmann-BalloonOfficials say the green, orange and purple hot-air bag with a candle attached to keep it aloft may be the same type of object seen recently by residents of Allen County. The UFO was taken into custody after Mrs. William Park of southern Hamilton County called the sheriff's office excitedly"saying a multi- colored spaceship had landed in her backyard." Sheriff's deputies said the UFO was in good working condition, just needing a new candle to be ready to fly again.
The Cincinnati Post...
.. Oct. 5, 1973

Hello Fiddlers - I thought you would like to see my recent build of your free "FG Hot Air Balloon". I used 67-lb card stock and mixed parts from both your orange and green models to get a bit more color. The gondola is weighted down with 3 pennies to keep the cotton rigging taut. The passengers (also 67-lb card stock) were made from photos of my brother and his wife. The entire model was sprayed with matte fixative to preserve it.

The attached photo was shot outdoors with the model hanging from a tree branch. I used a fill flash to brighten it. The support line was digitally removed using Paint Shop Pro. Thanks for making this model available. I have additional photos (including close ups of the gondola) if you need them.Ed Nachtmann (6/06)

Chip - Thanks so much for posting that balloon photo. There's a story behind this build. My brother Eugene recently passed away and I decided to build your model as a present for his wife Helene -- to celebrate their 32 years together. Attached is a close up of the happy couple in the gondola. I printed their heads a little oversize for comic effect. Ed Nachtmann (6/06)

Here is a picture (left) of the balloons we made for our Kindergarten graduation ceremony. The theme was "up, up and away." The kids really liked them. Thanks for making the pattern available for us to use. Sincerely, Colleen

Kindergarten Balloon


A flying garbage bag? Now that's a funny thought -- and a memorable way to impress kids that hot air rises!

Shake open a large black plastic garbage bag. "Inflate" the bag by pulling it through the air. (Note the stage direction above; do this activity in a large shady area.) When the bag is fully inflated, twist it closed and tie it with string or twist ties. Tie some string to the bag as a "leash." Then take the inflated bag outside to a spot where it is exposed to the sun and tie it to a pole or a chair. The bag should rest on the ground but have enough string so that it can "fly" while still attached.funky-blimp

Now, you must be patient. Check on the bag periodically as the sun warms it. As the sun warms the bag, it will expand and become lighter than the surrounding air. At first it will struggle to get off the ground. Eventually, though, you will get a rise out of your sun-warmed garbage bag.

Hot-air balloons rise because hot air weighs less than an equal volume of cool air. The key to heating your "balloon" is the black surface of the garbage bag. Dark colors absorb heat rays from the sun. (As a control experiment, you might do the activity with a white plastic trash bag of the same size and weight.) The air inside the black balloon gets warmer and expands. Because the same amount of material takes up more space, the air inside the garbage bag was less dense than the outside air. So the garbage bag was light enough to float.

All you need is a lightweight material to hold the air. And if the bag of air is large, the material doesn't have to be very lightweight. This is because the lifting ability of the hot air goes up with the cube of the diameter of the bag, while the weight of the material goes up only with the square of the diameter.

balloon dudeFor small balloons, you can use very thin plastic bags, such as those dry cleaners use to keep the clean clothes from getting dirty on their way home.

For larger balloons, some cheap garbage bags can be used (the cheap ones use a thinner plastic than the expensive ones). Often the thickness of the plastic is mentioned on the package. You want the thinnest material, since it will be the lightest weight. You also want the largest bag you can find. Stores that cater to people who move furniture sell big bags for keeping mattresses clean. Sometimes these bags are too thick and heavy, but you may find some lightweight ones.

To fill the bag with hot air, first seal any holes with cellophane tape. Then seal the open end of the bag with more tape, leaving one small hole at the bottom. This hole should be large enough to allow the nozzle of a hair dryer to fit into it. Fill the bag with hot air from the hair dryer. You may have to be careful not to let the hot air melt the bag.

On a cool day with no wind, the bag should rise into the air and travel quite a distance before it cools and falls. If the bag is large and black, a hot sun will keep the air inside warm enough to provide lift for most of the day. Black bags absorb sunlight and convert it to heat. Clear bags won't do this.

It is not recommended to be using birthday candles or other incendiary materials to keep the bag hot. In the 70s, it was popular to use soda straws in a cross at the open bottom of the dry cleaner bag, and to put birthday candles on the cross to make the bag rise. This caused fires on occasion, although they usually burned out high in the air. The hair dryer is a safer way to fill the bag.

Gordon Bennett balloon Race

The first Gordon Bennett balloon race was held in Tuileries, Paris in September 1906. It was won by the American Frank Lahm in his balloon 'United States' with a flight of 420 miles to Fylingdales, Yorkshire, England