This is a Mirror of Bob LeDoux's Balloon Builders Journal archive. As of early 2019, this is now the only "official" source to download the Balloon Builders Journal. It will remain hosted here indefinitely as a benefit to the worldwide balloon building community.

This knowledge and information is meant to be shared, and massive credit must be given to Bob for not only keeping it going as long as he had when the BBJ was an active publication, but for making the journal archive freely available afterwards. Thank you, Bob!

Here is Bob's old site, immortalized in the Internet Archive:
Balloon Builders Journal Compendium


Hot Air Ballooning Balloon Building Information Site

SewPointee-1st Inflation
SewPointee-2nd Inflation

Link to Marianne LeDoux's Web Page

Balloon Builders Journal Compendium

The material on this page is current through February 2016.

NEW: The Balloon Builders Journal is now available for download at no cost. The download is in a ZIP file format of about 41.5 megabytes. To download the file Click Here:

The Balloon Builders Journal was a series of 28, twelve-page newsletters published between 1993 and 1998. Each newsletter addressed a topic central to the construction of human-carrying balloons. Amateurs and hobbyists, not engineers, wrote these articles so the reader must assume all liability for use of this material.

Newsletters included letters from builders and personal reports on construction projects. Calculation tools, based on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, allowed the builder to tailor balloon designs for specific mission goals.

The Balloon Builders Journal represents a non-profit effort to convey a great deal of balloon building information to interested readers. The Journal complex contains more than 374 pages of information.

The zip file is organized into two groups:

The Newsletters contain PDF copies of the original Balloon Builders Journals. Contained here are all 28 published issues. The feature article from the unpublished 29th issue is also included. While the original newsletters employed gray-tone photos the ZIP file contains color photos. The ZIP file also includes some additional photos related to the original articles.

The Extra Files contain a variety of additional material including various Excel spreadsheets, technical data and other unpublished articles and viewpoints. For example, two individual spreadsheets generate envelope lifting force and fabric cutting patterns, respectively. Build a microprocessor controlled envelope temperature gauge that generates audio reports using modified Morse code. Cost of the unit is about $15.

All reading material is accessible using the Adobe PDF reader. Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are provided for calculation tools. No internet browser is required to use the files. While the files were prepared using a PC a MAC can read all the files.

A brief index of each issue is listed below. A sample copy, Issue22.pdf, can be downloaded. It is approximately 905 Kbytes.

To contact the Editor

Critical comments and other feedback are encouraged. E-mail should be addressed to the following: Please put BBJ in the subject line of e-mails so they are not accidentally trashed:

Bob LeDoux
PO Box 1306
Jefferson, OR 97352

Balloon Builders Journal Conditions of Use

A warning to readers: You must assume all risk associated for the application of this information.

  • First, this information is published for your education and recreation.
  • Second, the editor and contributors are amateurs and hobbyists, not engineers.
  • Third, we make no guaranty or warranty as to the information contained herein.
  • Fourth, building a real balloon literally means taking your life into your hands.
  • Fifth, if you get hurt, or worse, do not blame me (us).
  • Sixth, balloons are aircraft so pilot and aircraft certifications may be required.
  • Seventh, you and no one else are responsible, period.
  • Index of Articles by Issue Number

    • #1: Gore Pattern Spreadsheet for design of envelopes. List of possible article content. Story about in-air inflating balloon.
    • #2: Plan for first time builder using homebuilt envelope over factory basket. Sizing the mouth and deflation ports. Comment on information access and liability. Aeroquip hose problem. Bibliography.
    • #3: Paul Brockman and his first time building experience. Tip on closing up envelopes. Layout of multi-panel envelopes. Letters to the editor on projects.
    • #4: Flying ammonia gas balloons. Layout of vertical gore envelopes. Report on Sherwood valve failure. Comparison of vertical and horizontal gore patterns. Letter on STC process.
    • #5: Calculating envelope to basket cable lengths. Is [ammonia] gas for me? Sources mentioned are ParaGear, Westmark Fabrics, Tennessee Attachments. Comment on Australian certification requirements.
    • #6: Building envelopes from second grade lightweight parachute fabric. Flame testing of silicone coated fabric. Report from Vermont Amateur Built Balloon Meet. Letters on modifying Aerostar burners; fabric suppliers and folders other tidbits.
    • #7: The Barnes style of construction. Review of the Boland basket. Letters on external tanks; the half sphere and cone envelope, a source of fabric.
    • #8: Estimating envelope lift force with a computer spreadsheet/graph. The Bassett homebuilt burner. Letters on Peregrine Project; Kennedy balloon project; using lightweight balloons in competition.
    • #9: An envelope building table. Tidbits on time frames for FAA aircraft registration, a source for load tape, light and fabric, and sewing machine bobbins. Letters include photos from Vermont meet, stress testing balloons.
    • #10: Building the Bassett burner. Basics of ammonia flying. Letters on the Balloon Maintenance and Repair Association (BMRA), shuttle versus needle woven load tape, the Boland take down propane tank.
    • #11: Doing the FAA paperwork. Letters on the Bassett burner; Trademark infringement; Ken Kennedy new balloon.
    • #12: The stages and costs of envelope construction. The regulations on Part 103 ultralight balloons. Letters on Bill Arras test designs, the Joe Seawright project, thoughts on low cost temperature gauges.
    • #13: The Arras lightweight basket. The ultralight challenge. Letters on Australian building, buying a decimal tape measure.
    • #14: Homebuilt theodolite. Simplified lift force tables. Letters on cable fittings, uncoated parachute fabric, bicycle balloon retrieval.
    • #15: Common sewing machine attachments. Homebuilt load tape feeder. Letters on envelope resizing, Bill Arras in Antarctica, Part 103 calculations.
    • #16: Design and safety for the builder. Developing the builders checklist. Letters on interpreting the 51% rule, a tie-dyed envelope.
    • #17: Designing a simple basket. Letters on the majority built portion, balloon projects by Paul Clinton, Peter Asp; Documenting your project.
    • #18: Part II: Designing a simple basket. Letters on balloon computer programs, basket airbag, aircraft registrations are down for the year.
    • #19: Basic testing for the builder. Letters on blast valve problem, new FAA burner standards, 3-phase motors running on single-phase power.
    • #20: Arras component testing. Nicopress fittings. Letters on low cost temperature gauge, envelope-basket attachments, buying tape and ribbon.
    • #21: A low cost temperature gauge. Thoughts from Albuquerque. Letters on the Cathy Luenenborg new balloon, parachute lines, listing of suppliers.
    • #22: Revisit the Gore Pattern Spreadsheet from Issue #1. Letters on, adhesive for silicone coated fabric, sewing machine setup, thread and needles.
    • #23: Revisit the Gore Pattern Spreadsheet from Issue #1, Part II. Letters on, Tweetie Bird, Kennedy report on envelope project, Phil MacNutt reports on receiving his new airworthiness certificate.
    • #24: Report on Experimental Balloon Meet in Vermont. Kennedy built basket using polyethylene tubing.
    • #25: Building Tweetie Bird. Low cost temperature gauge. Throttling sewing machines, comment on new gore pattern computer tool.
    • #26: John Burk aluminum basket. Bob Nungester new computer design program. Joe Seawright and Larry Lankenau provide views of new balloon projects.
    • #27: Locating and buying a sewing machine. Third generation instruments. Basket repairing techniques.
    • #28: Setting up a sewing machine and your sewing room. EAA amateur-built agreement with FAA. Buying imported fabric.
    • #29: Maintaining, adjusting and repairing the sewing machine.