Hot Air Ballooning

Adams “Friendship” Hot Air Airship

Aer Blarney Balloons, & The Litchfield Hills Aero Club are extremely excited to introduce to the ballooning world the newest generation of pressurized thermal airships called the Friendship made by Adams Balloons.

Airships are fantastic advertising vehicles with their ability to fly over the same location, maximizing advertising dollars over the target audience. The advantage of hot air airship over the traditional helium blimps is the extremely low operating costs of propane compared to helium.

Airships can also be transported via a trailer eliminating the added expense of hanger or large ground crews.

Available for corporate advertising and promotions late fall 2017.

Please contact us for additional information on advertising, corporate promotions and custom hot air airships.

The most EXCITING and ECONOMICAL way to get a drone license is to learn how to fly hot air balloons.


Currently the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires commercial drone operators to hold a “commercial, private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate.”

A lighter than air private pilot certificate meets the regulations to become a certifiable drone operator in less time and at a lower cost.

I have been speaking with many drone operators exploring learning to fly hot air balloons to meet the requirements for commercial drone operations.   Initially many people are put off by the requirements of earning a pilot certificate and do not understand the reasons or the value of the training.  The value in receiving pilot training not matter the form is to learn and understand the Federation Aviation Regulations including proper use of the national airspace to enhance the safety for the general public and aircraft sharing the same airspace with drones.  Training benefits all involved who sharing the airspace and enjoying a safe flying environment.

In the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of people flying drones for both personal and commercial applications which has created new challenges for keeping the airspace safe for all to use and enjoy..

Improved technology and lower entry costs to purchase drones makes them extremely accessible and affordable which has increased unsafe drone operations in general aviation resulting in requiring commercial drone operators to become certified pilots.

Hot Air Balloon flight instruction covers all the required knowledge areas and test preparations.  Below are several areas specific to drone applications that you will learn when taking flight instruction to improve your flight operations and knowledge.

a)      14 CFR (Federal Aviation Regulations) covering pilot privileges, limitations & flight procedures

b)      Use of Sectional Navigation charts and airspace knowledge

c)      Recognition of weather conditions and use of weather /forecasts and reports.

d)      Airport operations

Hot Air Ballooning is one of the most enjoyable forms of flight and one that can be shared with family and friends unlike other  any other form of flight.

Hot Air Ballooning is an affordable and enjoyable activity that you might not have ever considered but pursing commercial drone flying may have just introduced you to your next great flying adventure to enjoy for many years to come!

Please call or e-mail for more information on learning to fly hot air balloon and we will help make your commercial drone flying dreams come true with qualified flight instruction to make your drone flying operations safe and profitable.  Schedule a time and come out to CT01 Whelan Farms Airport in Bethlehem to expereince the magic of flight!

Buoyant Regards,



Lindstrand Balloons Fall Special “LEARN TO FLY”


The special is limited to the first 12 complete orders received by October 31, 2013;

Now is the time to purchase a brand new hot air balloon system and take advantage of the fall savings and generous rebates.  Just put together your ideal balloon system or envelope requirements, and we’ll be happy to work with you to offer the best value on the worlds’ best balloon!

Aer Blarney Balloons Additional Fall Incentive will include ground and flight instruction for you to be able to earn your private pilot certificate with the purchase of any new system.

Now is the time to learn to fly a new Lindstrand AX-77, A-Series with Jet Stream Super Single Burner, two 15-gallon stainless fuel tanks, and 42″ x 52″ Ascot Basket.

Call 203-910-4955 or e-mail for additional information or come out to the airport for a demonstration.

Hot Air Balloon Crew Member

If you have watched hot air balloons being prepared, the question that is often asked is “who are all those people rou

nd the hot air balloon?” Well it’s called the ground crew or more commonly the chase crew and is usually between 2 to 3 people.
We are looking for anyone interested in becoming a hot air balloon ground crew member. Our balloon crew is comprised of mostly volunteers. Crewing provides the opportunity to learn about the various aspects of ballooning and general aviation. We also offered paid positions as well with flexible schedule

This job is mostly fun – and you’ll learn how hot air balloons operate. You would need to be available for up to three hours, be on time, and ready for some light physical work unloading and packing up the balloon after flight. If you are interested please let me know!

As crew you will perform the following tasks:
- Unpack the Hot Air Balloon components form the vehicle or trailer
- Assemble the basket and envelope
- Assist the pilot inflating the balloon envelope and preparing it for flight
- Follow the Hot Air Balloon in the chase vehicle
- Assist the pilot after landing
- Deflate and pack up the balloon components back in the chase vehicle
- Assist the passengers and pilot in a post flight celebration.

Some of these crew duties may involve:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Operating a gasoline powered fan
- Driving a vehicle with a trailer
- Reading a road map
- Talking on a two-way radio

Lindstrand 77X Racer

Lindstrand 77 X Racer

After Fiesta, this very pretty 77X will be looking for a new home. The price for this envelope-only is $27,272. The price will lower an additional $100 for every hour flown prior to delivery.

Please call 203-910-4955 or email for more information!

Litchfield Hills Aero Club, LLC


The Litchfield Hills Aero Club, LLC is based at Whelan Farms Airport, CT01 in Bethlehem CT. We have an active membership that includes commercial, private pilots, retrieve crews and social members. Over the years the club has organized many flying and social events and looking to expand our membership base and introduce more people to the wonderful world of ballooning.

Getting involved in Ballooning

Many people see balloons flying and it seems like an unreachable activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even for a pilot it is not really any more expensive than any other hobby but you can get into ballooning at virtually no cost by crewing.

Pilots always need a team of enthusiastic crew of almost any age. Regular crew can be sure of being offered opportunities to fly in the balloon and it is a sport that can take you all over the world. Make it known at a meeting that you are interested in crewing and you will be fighting off the offers! Ballooning is an extremely sociable activity as crews typically involve three or four people and morning flights often end up in the local “greasy spoon” for breakfast.

The Litchfield Hills Aero Club welcomes anyone with an interest in ballooning to join the club. There are two levels of membership available depending on your involvement in the club. Social Membership is the basic membership for those who do not wish to use the Club balloon. Each member receives a copy of our monthly newsletter the Q-Vent full of news, stories and details of ballooning events around the country and abroad.

We also offer a Flying Membership with equity ownership in the club balloon for an additional fee which includes, 10 hours of flight instruction with one of the clubs flight instructors. The flying membership allows members to learn how to fly and earn their private pilot’s license. Once you earned your pilot certificate you are able schedule time and fly the club balloon.

New Member Meeting: 

Sunday 28, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Whelan Farms Airport, LLC in (Hanger 3)
249 Hard Hill Road N
Bethlehem, CT 06751
RSVP: Mick Murphy 203-910-4955
or e-mail


Adding a Hot Air Balloon Rating

If you have a powered aircraft rating — NO written exam required.
If you no powered aircraft rating — You will need to pass a written exam.

Flight Training Private Pilot Rating:
10 hours total over a minimum of 6 instructional flights including a solo flight.
One flight to 3000′ AGL. 2 training flights of on hour minimum.

Commercial Pilot Rating Requirements
35 total flight hours — 20 hours in balloons — 10 balloon flights.
10 hours of flight training that includes at least 10 flights.
One flight to 3000′ AGL. 2 training flights of one hour minimum.
2 solo flights.

For either rating — pass the appropriate practical (Flight) test.
No medical certificate required for either rating.

The Litchfield Hills Aero Club, LLC , is a not for profit, equity ownership flying club, that provides its members with affordable access to ballooning. The club is based at Whelan Farms Airport (CT01) and will be run by a board of directors elected by the membership, per club by-laws, which includes operating rules, members manual and flying schedule. We also welcome new members to join the team and have fun.

Call or e-mail to learn more about The Litchfield Hills Aero Club, LLC or learning to fly lighter than air aviation!


BFA Matchbooks

In 197, the Balloon Federation of America sold boxes of matches.  These matchbooks have the BFA emblem on the front cover, and the slogan “Fly in Balloons” ornately inscribed on the back.   Each box of fifty books of matches sold for $1.00 USD.   At that time matches could not be mailed, so the BFA matches were made available to purchase from the following BFA members, Norton Grim, Dennis Floden, Bob Waligunda, Dodds Meddock and Matt Wiederkehr.


These match books are an extremely rare piece of BFA history with a select few still available.

Commemorative pin in memory of Carol Rymer Davis and Richard Abruzzo

This gallery contains 3 photos.


On September 29, 2010 Carol Rymer Davis and Richard Abruzzo the team competing in the Gordon Bennett International Gas Balloon Race went missing.  The balloon was last reported flying over the Adriatic Sea in thunderstorms and rough seas at the time.

 It was not until two months later that an Italian fishing boat hulled in the gondola with the remains of the two aeronauts still aboard ending the search for two amazing competitors and balloonists.  The National Transportation Safety Board released a report that the balloon was struck by lightning based on examination of the aircraft.

Dr. Carol Rymer Davis was a previous recorded holder for – altitude, distance, and duration – for class AX-5 hot-air balloons. She held the absolute altitude record for women in any size balloon for 15 years. Carol is a two-time Montgolfier Diploma recipient, won the Harmon Trophy, and in 2005 received the NAA Stinson Award and the Federation Aeronautique International’s Sabhia Gokcen (Grotchen) medal.  Both awards are given for the most outstanding performance of the year by a woman in any form of aviation. She is a former Balloon Federation of America Board Member, Treasurer, and Vice President and was the Balloon Fiesta’s chief safety official in 1991.Richard Abruzzo was the son of Ben Abruzzo, the legendary balloonist who completed the first manned transatlantic balloon crossing in 1978 and the first manned transpacific crossing in 1981. In 1992, Richard competed with Troy Bradley in the Chrysler Transatlantic Challenge race, setting a world record for duration and making the first balloon crossing from the USA to Africa. He is a former national gas balloon champion and has set numerous world records in gas balloons. His many honors include the Federation Aeronautique International De La Vaulx Medal, the Balloon Federation of America Shields-Trauger Award, and the Montgolfier Diploma.

He is a three-time winner of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) Harmon Trophy.  He served on the Balloon Fiesta board of directors and is the current chair of the Board of Trustees of the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

The Gordon Bennett Cup (or Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett) is the world’s oldest gas balloon race, and is “regarded as the premier event for world balloon racing”.  The first race started from Paris, France, on September 30, 1906.  The event was sponsored by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the millionaire sportsman and owner of the  New York Herald newspaper.  According to the organizers, the aim of the contest “is simple: to fly the furthest distance from the launch site.”  The contest ran from 1906 to 1938, interrupted by World War I and in 1931, but was suspended in 1939 when the hosts, Poland, were invaded at the start of World War II. The event was not resurrected until 1979, when American Tom Heinsheimer, an atmospheric physicist, gained permission from the holders to host the trophy. The competition was not officially reinstated by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) until 1983.

The Balloon Federation of  America Gas Division has agreed to co-sponsor with the German Gordon Bennett delegation led by Wilhelm Eimers, a commemorative pin in memory of Carol Rymer Davis and Richard Abruzzo.  In cooperation with the German delegation, in as much as it is in our power, these pins are not to be resold or used for commercial purposes.

The Light Heart Trans-Atlantic Balloon Attempt

Tom’s attempt to be the first person to cross the Atlantic by balloon was different from any of the previous approaches in that it would use a cluster of 10 super-pressure helium balloons built by Raven Industries to use the jet stream to cross the Atlantic.   The original theory was based on ideas from an earlier aeronaut John Wise and using scientific balloons that had a history and performance for carrying high altitude payloads is how the Light Heart project began!

Tom’s plan was to ascend to 40,000 feet into the jet stream and fly across the Atlantic to Europe.  He named the project Light Heart but I think it should have been titled “Strong Heart” as he spent two years working full time to support this project and spent over $60,000 of his own hard earned money to make this project take flight.

During the two years he had built the pressured gondola in his home and made it insulated with the ability to have radar bounce of the gondola in the event he was forced to ditch as sea.

On February 18, 1974, Tom ascended at 19:29 hours at Harrisburg Airport in Pennsylvania as he stood in the hatch of the Light Heart and waved farewell to family and friends.  Above hanging in the rigging of the gondola was a pennant from the battleship “South Dakota” to honor his father who served.

Light Heart ascended to 18,000 feet over Dover, Delaware and was headed towards Atlantics City.  At 20:45 hours into the flight Tom reported that one of his balloons had burst and the reason was unknown but he thought the flight could continue because the thought this situation was again stabilized.   Over the next two days, the Light Heart continued on an easterly course flying at altitudes above 35,000 feet and was consistently checking in with passenger airliners.

The last contact was with BOAC flight 583 at 1250 hours Tuesday, 19 February, 925 miles northeast of San Juan on a course that was way south of the flight plan.  This course took him away for the most heavily traveled commercial air-lanes and out of radio contact.

The last known sighting was from Liberian freight Ore Meriden that spotted the Light Hear shortly after dawn on Thursday, 1000 miles west of the Canaries which was farther south than previous position reports.  Sadly the last reported sighting did not reach the mission control until several days later.

The Meridian reported an apparently lifeless balloon floating far off course and at a low altitude. No further information about Tom has been received since the Meridian’s sighting on 21 February 1974. There was a search by US military aircraft and ships, as well as commercial planes and vessels, all to no avail. Tom’s sister offered a $10,000 reward and distributed flyers in likely areas with information about Tom’s flight.  The Light Hear had disappeared but Tom’s determination and imagination have not been forgotten!