The Ultra-Light Sport Balloon

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A balloon pilot from France has come up with an ultralight sport balloon. So light and portable that he calls it a one-person balloon system.  

Leandro Corradini, a balloon pilot and entrepreneur launched his startup FlyDoo,  to make ballooning  easier, manageable, and more fun. For this, he made several innovations  in the balloon’s envelope, burner, and basket–and says his balloon system is the lightest on the market.

In the United States, his  balloon would be a light sport aircraft; however, in France, the balloon falls in the ultralight motor category, and, for that, Corradini had to motorize his balloon with a motor and a propeller. As some early balloonists experimented with a motor and propeller, without any success, having them on the balloon is a revolutionary step. But Corradini explains that he added the motor and propeller to fulfill a regulation in France, which is required for ultralight aircraft. He explains that balloon pilots have an option to use or not use it, and it is a plug-in device.  However, there are certain uses to it, and he’s comfortable flying his balloon using the motor and propeller, whenever he needs it.  

Corradini says that the motor should not alarm any one in any way, and as long as the short checklist and sequence to start is followed, it will work fine, and the balloon system is  very user friendly.

The idea for an ultralight balloon system came to Corradini when he was training for his balloon pilot’s license few years back. He noticed that there could be lot of improvements in ballooning technology to go light, so he looked for solutions. After two years of research and testing, he developed the envelope, the simple compact but powerful burner, and the light foldable basket that can be transformed into a bike trailer.

The entire system weighs only 42 kilos or 92.4 pounds and is portable enough to be carried in a standard family car. So instead of needing a team of people to prepare the balloon to fly and a chase crew to assemble and carry it back, all you need is just one person’s help, which balloon pilots would find very attractive.  

But certification process has been an ongoing effort, says Corradini. The process is slow due to the nature of these type of things and various circumstances and he’s realizing that lot of patience is needed in aviation. Besides, he says, he is setting up the company to look good in the long run. Now, the balloon could be flown in the US as an experimental light sport aircraft and in Europe as an ultralight motor aircraft.

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