Per Lindstrand designed the original Cloudhopper back in 1979. Almost as soon as it was UK certified, three of these little balloons starred in the film “Green Ice” where they were used to land on the rooftop of a bank in Mexico City during a jewel heist.
The original design has survived virtually unchanged, with only a handful of design modications to enhance pilot safety and comfort. The burner now incorporates the latest livestock-friendly “whisper” technology; the harness system has been replaced with a fold-down seat similar to a crew seat on an aircraft; and a five- point rally-style harness and padded head restraint have also been added. The result is improved security, greater comfort, enhance pilot mobility and better all around vision.
The most current design enables the Clouhopper to be flown with a choice of standard cylinders. Either a 10 gal., 15 gal. or even a 20 gal. stainless cylinder can all be taken straight from a regular balloon and attached, without modification to your new Cloudhopper. The fuel supply from the tank is routed through a quarter-turn quick shut-off valve, located just over the pilot’s shoulder. This enables the fuel to be shut down without having to reach the top of the tank.
Also new to the Series 3 Cloudhopper are detachable wheels for easy ground transport, as well as a variable angle reflector which allows the pilot to view the quantity gauge at the top of the cylinder more easily at any time during the flight.
Inflating the Cloudhopper
Due to the compact size of the envelope, inflation is rapid and easy with the powerful specially adapted JetStream burner. The design of seat and harness assembly is such that the pilot sits astride the cylinder and keeps his body weight on the balloon throughout the entire inflation process.
The control lines are quickly attached and the five-point harness is locked with a cover flap to eliminate the possibility of accidental deployment in flight. A quick 360° visual inspection of the envelope, a test of the burner systems, and you’re airborne!
Flying the Cloudhopper
The freedom of movement allowed in the Cloudhopper seating system is incredible! The security harness enables the pilot to relax, both burner controls are in full view and all the systems can be monitored with only slight pilot movement.
Typically, on a 70°(F) day, a pilot with an average weight of 170 lbs., utilizing a 15-gallon fuel tank can look forward to a 1-1 1/4 hour flight before looking for a landing spot. When the time comes to land, pull the deflation line for either a stand-up gradual deflation, or a rapid response to completely deflate the envelope.
To accommodate larger cylinders (and pilots!) the Lindstrand Cloudhopper is available in four sizes, 21, 25, 31 and 35,000 cubic feet. The 35 Cloudhopper envelope is patterned after the design of the larger Lindstrand “A” – Series balloon. Small enough to be easily transported by vehicle or aircraft, padded carrying cases are available for all individual components.
Average costs range from $18-21,000 for the system.
Currently, the Lindstrand Cloudhopper can be registered in the U.S. experimental category or depending on the size may qualify as an ultralight. The ‘Hopper’ is not eligible for standard US type certification. The Lindstrand Cloudhopper can be used just for fun or as an eye-catching promotional feature, with your own design or logo applied to the balloon envelope for maximum exposure. Corporate clients utilize the Cloudhopper when the venues are too small for conventional balloons and with the unique qualities of a hopper, everyone looks twice and remembers a solo chair balloon-and the logo!
Hoppers offer you all the freedom and excitement of balloon flying in a convenient, lightweight package. If you’re looking for that solo experience or unique advertising vehicle, a Lindstrand Cloudhopper can’t be beat!