Friday, May 21, 2010

Tonight's Work

Connected the helmet, with its recently-installed oral-nasal mask (ONM), to the A-14 regulator, although the regulator wasn't connected to a pressurized breathing gas supply. Still, a useful exercise to see the ONM working inside the helmet and starting to get a feel for the helmet, breathing gas management system and flight performance monitor panel all working together. Getting used to using the system makes it, bit by bit, less mysterious and exotic; which is good, as it all needs to be done so many times that in flight these movements are automatic.

Once the pressure suit and life support system is built, I'll start building the actual flying seat and the very limited gondola that will be suspended beneath the balloon. Everything builds out from the pilot in his seat, so the suit and life support system are first; the balloon to take all of this to 50,000 feet will be the last thing I build. Sewing a balloon is laborious but not complicated; two builders recently built a balloon of roughly the size I'll need over the course of a few weekends. Sewing fabric panels into a balloon of the size I need requires a 20-foot long seaming table, and there's just room in my living space to build that table when the time comes. For the moment, though, plenty of work just on life support and the seat / gondola (balloonists for some reason hate the term 'gondola', preferring 'car', and I'm interested to know why...but for the reason I prefer 'gondola' or better yet 'ship'--and it will be, at least in my eyes, a magnificent ship!).

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