Well this is positively weird, I’m being asked to write something about cloudhopppers by a man (Chris Dunkley) who has had more experiences than most in them and who could probably keep you entertained all night with tales from his exploits, and sending it to Barry Conway ( another hopper exponent), who could also write this stuff.
Cloudhoppers are by their nature one of the coolest ways of flying balloons. They are small, highly portable, fly in a unique manner that rewards the pilot so that for small inputs of heat you get instant reactions .You can go fly them on your own but most owners choose to go with a crew member who makes the experience so much easier to achieve. Like all balloons you need a valid Pilots license in order to fly them.
This segment of the ballooning market had little or no representation until January 2004 when i set up a forum on Yahoo groups called “Cloudhoppers”. The idea was to bring about more exposure to this hidden treasure for pilots , enthusiasts and prospective owners in one central area where we could all converse about this great form of flying . I was unprepared for the reception the forum got with the first person requesting membership being Don Piccard . How could I deny membership to the grandfather of cloudhopping ? This was a guy who back in the sixties created the genre by taking a small balloon , attaching a burner and whilst sitting side saddle on the fuel tank , went flying ! Of course he was in !
To accompany the forum , I proposed attempting a newsletter E-magazine called Cloudhopper News with reviews of products , stories of peoples exploits, useful items to assist in making flying these craft more easy and a place where you could go to get the information( whatever it may be), to be able to understand and grasp the buzz associated with ownership and flying one of these things.
It was opened to enthusiastic fans who also wanted advice with a view of fulfilling their dreams of ownership in time and joining a unique club. As of January 2012 , there have been 52 monthly or bimonthly newsletters sent out to nearly 450 members worldwide .
There is a website which also promotes this form of flying www.cloudhoppers.org but at this time it’s a bit tired, staid in its appearance , and needs to be more interactive so is in the process of being revamped imminently with more ability to be updated regularly by a non techno editor ( ie me!).
Getting hip and groovy, in 2011 we added a Facebook page “Cloudhoppers” and at least 100 members are regularly subscribing to the page with their exploits .
However , for any prospective buyer , the best thing you can do is talk to an expert and they don’t come much better qualified than the guys at Easy Balloons who will give you impartial advice and help you achieve your goals with purchasing a good second hand item or keep your pride and beauty ship shaped and ready to fly .
Failing that you can always contact me to join our growing community and ask the masses or just find out when one of our organised events is going to take place and visit and say hello to us.
Either way , come and find the most rewarding balloon flying money can buy