PH-ASF 'Big Sister'

Balloons are excellent advertising objects, and if your great passion is flying them, you inevitably get involved in designing an advertising balloon for someone. I designed this balloon, together with my brother Marc who was my crew chief at the time, for contact lens manufacturer Microlens. That was quite a while ago, and she has been mothballed for years, but it was a fun design, wasn't it? I flew that balloon carrying opticians (clients), employees and promoting opticians by means of rapidly interchangeable banners on the lower part of the envelope.
This photo was taken during the maiden flight of 'Big Sister' (referring to the fact that these feminine eyes always seem to follow you, like a female version of Big Brother), during an Alpine event in Austria. We made the front page of a national newspaper the first day. Note that journalists can take pics of this balloon without the advertising text becoming too obtrusive; in spite of that everybody who had seen it once immediately referred to it as the 'contact lens balloon'. Great fun to look at when it rose up from behind a row of trees. The envelope was equipped with rotation vents so I could keep the eyes looking at people while we floated along.
The sponsor only invested in the envelope; the basket underneath is mine (it still is).

Running a hot-air balloon for publicity is not easy. It involves a lot of organisation (consider take-off permits for weird locations and during large public events, and selecting the proper ballooning events such as fiestas and competitions to participate in; and the small avalanche of technical paperwork that goes with running an aircraft). And the balloon never comes alone; it is always part of an advertising or promotional campaign. It helps to make maximum use of a balloon when the pilot has some understanding not only of flying the thing, but also of communications.

As for flying it: better get a good pilot. Crashing a balloon is very bad publicity.

Just try me. And see a FAQ. Or here..(Dutch)