Parts of a Hopper
A Cloudhopper is the sum of its parts, that's obvious . But what exactly makes up a hopper ? Most cloudhoppers are generic in their build content. Here in simple laymen terms , we split down the craft and look at its component pieces.
Cloudhoppers are made up of three main parts :
Bottom Ends. Basket, Chariot or Seat Unit
This grand name is the balloon part of the Cloudhopper. Over the year's, sizes have varied from as small as 9000 cubic feet right up to 42,000 cubic feet.The whole thing is dependent on what weight of pilot you want to fly and at what ambient temperature you want to fly at, since each is specifically designed for a certain body weight. You choose an Envelope size to fit your own weight and the most popular sizes are from 25,000 cubic feet ( for someone weighing around 60-75kgs) through 31,000 cubic feet , 35,000 cubic feet up to 42,000cubic feet.The bigger the balloon size , the more weight it can carry. These Envelopes pack away into purpose built bags and come in at weights from 35kgs up to around 65kgs dependent on the type of Rip Stop Nylon fabric or Polyester used. Each Pilot will pick an Envelope size specifically tailored to their own individual needs.
Bottom Ends. Basket , Chariot or Seat Unit
Cloudhopper Bottom Ends can be a small personal wicker basket ,a Chariot, or more popular is a newer design which is a collapsible Seat Unit . Preference for the style you choose is generally in the choice of the Pilot when purchasing new , but with second hand stock you can change your choice to suit your needs, and mix and match the assembly. Modern lightweight Bottom Ends tend to be of a fold up seat style arrangement , but older designs include Chariot bottom ends where you sit in a seat unit with a tank slung underneath the balloon. Wicker baskets afford you a more enclosed platform when you fly with tanks held internally or supported external to the design. Chariots give you similar enhanced protection and are fixed in their application , necessitating an envelope which has turning vents so you can align the craft prior to landing. The latest designs utilise a seat unit where the pilot is more exposed to the elements like a paraglider, and utilise bearings on the assembly to be able to swivel the seat unit around the balloon and align yourself for landing easier. In small mass balloons , care has to be taken with only a limited volume of air in the Envelope. Turning vents provide a way of propelling the balloon to orientate it the way you wish to face , but with small lift capacity , loss of lift potential can make landings more spirited. The key to safe landings with turning vents , is to orientate the balloon well in advance of the final landing.
Fuel tanks also come in a variety of sizes and of materials used . With cloudhopping , weight is the enemy. Decisions on what size of Fuel Tank to use comes down to how long you wish to fly for and sizes start at around 40 Litre capacity with a Worthington Fuel Tank which originated in the Fork lift truck market and was adapted for use in balloons. The rule of thumb with a balloon is that for every thousand cubic feet of capacity , as a rule it takes one kilo of LPG or propane gas per hour to fly it . Tanks can also be made out of either Stainless Steel or Titanium and the lighter material costs more to produce. Typical popular sizes are a V30 Tank( 60 litres capacity ) or a V40 (80 litres capacity). Most pilots utilise one Fuel Tank for their flying so great care is taken with Fuel management and the way you fly the craft. Others utilise two tanks of similar capacity to extend the range of the balloon and give you a greater margin of safety. All pilots strictly monitor their time aloft using a watch or similar timepiece.