Progressive Fill

Inflate out-of-the-bag is a technique in which the envelope suspension is connected to the basket. The envelope is pulled progressively out of the bag as the fan is running and inflating the envelope as the crew slowly, with pauses, carries the balloon bag away from the basket while the envelope fills.

Another variation of the progressive fill has the crew holding the envelope in their arms, gradually releasing more and more of the envelope, from mouth to top, until the very top of the envelope is released for filling.

Role of the Inflator Fan

The type of fan needed for different layout techniques depends primarily on the amount of work required by the fan. The strip layout method requires a large, strong fan to force the envelope into shape, while the spread-it-out method requires less fan energy.


The value of using a checklist is well known to the airlines and the military. Regulations require air carrier pilots and military pilots to use checklists. Also, FAA practical tests require pilot certificate applicants to use checklists. Checklists are effective and contribute to safe flying because routine and familiarity breed complacency. Like military and airline pilots, balloonists who fly everyday need a checklist to assure nothing is omitted. For example, professional balloon ride operators are subject to distractions and interruptions during their preflight, layout, assembly, and inspection.

Appendix B contains sample checklists that can be used as is, or adapted to your particular balloon and style.

Infrequent balloon flyers, which include most balloonists, need checklists because long periods of inactivity creates memory lapses. A typical balloonist may make only 30 to 40 flights per year. A checklist will not replace proficiency, but it will help.

Students and new pilots need checklists because they are forming habit patterns, and need prompting to reinforce training and confirm good habits. [Figure 2-1]

A checklist can save time. By arranging the layout, assembly, and inspection in a logical order, and by accomplishing more than one task at a time, duplication and wasted time can be minimized. For instance, a properly arranged preflight checklist can include many tasks that are performed while the fan is running, so people are not just standing around waiting for the envelope to inflate. Also, a checklist eliminates needless walking. Sometimes pilots circle the envelope three or four times when one lap around should suffice.

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