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When in NY in early May, I was approached by a gentleman in a local shop, asking if I had ever worked on a balloon basket. Sign on my van caught his attention and he tracked me down to make this inquiry. I was not exactly sure what he was referring to but I envisioned a Balloon shaped back of a wicker chair or a large basket with a balloon shaped handle. He insisted that I follow him down the road a short distance to show me what he needed fixed. After a short drive to a rather new barn, he pulled around to the main entrance and he slid open the large door. The open barn was relatively dark, but I saw a nice drop leaf table and a vintage pickup, very well maintained. He walked around to the back of the pickup and threw up a portion of the tarp that was covering something rather tall. I could see the one side of a large wicker woven basket and he informed at the point, that the hot air balloon gondola needed to be repaired along the one side before he would be able to use this year. It was only at the point, that I realized what I had missed. The Balloon basket was truly a hot air balloon basket.
I am working on the gondola now, after 2 weeks of research about how to approach the repair of a lighter than air craft gondola. There was much more to the project than putting in a few weavers, but we are on target and in compliance with the FAA regulations for the repair of this hot air gondola.
Quite honestly, I had no clue or inkling that I would be repairing the weavings of such a basket. It has been a great learning experience and I have learned to do my homework with baskets that fly.
I was able to finish the repairs in time for the July4th balloon fest in Wellsboro, NY. The owner had his own pilot serve as Mr supervisor and thought the repair was excellent.
The wicker had to be purchased from the balloon manufacturer. It was a special type of wicker that had to be FAA approved. The weavers ran up and down on the basket with the spokes running vertically, wrapping around the pole that ran along the pallet of the basket.
The basket was triangular, making it very stable for flying. Maybe I'll geta chance to take a ride sometime.