Below are some frequently asked questions that have been answered by Andy Richardson, Owner/Builder of Limelite Balloons.
Have a question that is not answered? Feel free to call us at 812-825-2214 or use our Contact Us form.
What category does a LimeLite balloon fall into?
LimeLite’s balloons fall into the Light Sport category, which is the newest of the FAA’s categories. It is geared towards people who want to fly for pleasure and not commercially. In a nutshell, the guidelines for this category are pretty simple. The aircraft can only carry the pilot plus one passenger, and it cannot have a gross lift of more than 1,320lbs., which is much more than adequate for small hot-air balloons.
How does this balloon fit into today’s market?
In my opinion, this is exactly what the market needs. This is a breath of fresh air for the fun flyer, and the new people we hope to attract into the wonderful sport of ballooning. The small one and two-place balloon is a perfect way to share the love of the sport with others, and not break your back or your wallet while doing it.
What sizes balloons do you offer?
LimeLite offers several different sizes and styles of balloon. Our standard model is a 52,000 ft3horizontal- cut envelope with a single place basket and two 10 gallon steel tanks. We will have 60,000 ft3 and 69,000 ft3 envelopes for carrying a passenger, or if you are flying in higher elevations or in warmer temperatures. The two larger envelopes are equipped with a larger basket suitable for two people. The balloons come standard with a parachute top. The baskets come with smooth leather or suede for the bolster and upright covers. The burners are purchased from a type-certified balloon manufacturing company and are installed in our burner frame, which is made from 4130 Chromalloy aircraft tubing. Flytec instruments are standard equipment. Our 52,000 ft3 hot-air balloon system, new from the factory, starts at $12,995. Options such as turning vents, Nomex, and artwork are available at additional cost.
How did you get into building balloons?
I have had the ballooning bug since 1994 after taking my first ride. All through my childhood I fantasized about flying balloons and being a pilot. In 1998, during a family vacation to Vermont, we took a side-trip to Post Mills in order to visit Brian Boland. After spending almost the entire day with him, I left with more ambition for ballooning and, from that point on; I wanted to build my own balloons. I purchased my first factory-built balloon in the fall of 2001, and in 2003 I began acquiring the materials and tools needed for my first balloon building project. At that time, I contacted a friend of mine from northern Indiana who used to run a repair station. With his help, in my spare time after school, I began building my first experimental balloon.
How long have you been building balloons?
I have been building and working on balloons full-time since 2005, and I recently began this full-fledged balloon manufacturing operation (2011). Our goal is to improve the ballooning market one balloon at a time while still keeping these balloons safe and affordable.
What trade organizations do you belong to?
LimeLite belongs to several trade organizations to help keep us up-to-date with the latest industry trends, standards, and information. This year we became a corporate member of the BFA, and then joined the EAA and AOPA shortly thereafter. We are in the process of submitting our designs and technical drawings to the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) for their review and approval. They are the national organization that helps all light sport manufacturers keep apprised of the standards that govern the construction of this category of aircraft. Limelite Balloons joined the ASTM organization and became an active participating member of the LSA committee (2011).
What kind of fabric are you using?
I have tested and used multiple types of fabrics over the past few years. I am happy to say that the fabric we have chosen is the best hot-air ballooning fabric (square weave) that money can buy. It is a 1.9oz. base stock fabric with ¾ oz. coating. The reason we chose this fabric is because it is the most durable, toughest, high-tenacity, rip-stop nylon, and it’s made in the USA. Our fabric is a bit heavier than what is used in some of the other balloons being built, but I feel it is an excellent trade-off. With lighter weight fabric you get less life span. Our heavier, more durable, fabric lasts longer. Although I am now in the business of making balloons (and yes, I want repeat customers), I don’t want pilots to purchase another balloon because their previous envelope only lasted 250-300 hours. My goal is to build a high quality product that people will be happy with for many years.
Who do you think is best suited to fly a LimeLite balloon?
LimeLite’s balloons are oriented towards the fun flyer. Someone who wants to be able to go out and have a good time with friends or family or maybe participate in a balloon event on the weekends would be the perfect owner. LimeLite’s balloons are small, easy to rig, inflate, and fly. They are also easy to pack up so you don’t need an extensive ground crew.
Who can service a LimeLite balloon?
LimeLite’s balloons are certified in the light sport category and have their own special airworthiness certificate. It is not considered an experimental balloon. The airworthiness certificate says Sport Light Sport Aviation or S-LSA. Your local repair station can get copies of our manuals for continued airworthiness and be able to service or repair your LimeLite balloon. Our requirements for annual inspections are very similar to the same requirements of their bigger, type-certified, cousins. And remember, you can always send it back to the factory for maintenance, repairs, and inspections.
Which similar systems are presently on the market?
LimeLite balloons fit in the AX5 and AX6 categories, so they are very similar in size to an Aerostar Aurora, UltraMagic Tekno 50, or a Firefly 6.
What is your favorite feature or aspect of the balloon?
I love the entire system. I think they are compact, efficient, and well built. But if I had to be partial to any one aspect of the system I would have to say it is the fabric. I am in love with this stuff. I am so excited to show it off and talk about it. I could do it for hours and hours but you won’t fully appreciate what I am talking about until you have it in your hands. Feel free to call, email, or snail-mail us with your address; I would be happy to send information and fabric samples to anybody who is interested.
How can you afford to stay in business while building balloons for so much less than other certified balloons?
The primary goal of every business is to make money, and I have LimeLite set up to do that. I don’t want people to turn their head in disbelief when they see the great price. We don’t cut corners, and we are using high quality parts and materials to construct these aerostats. The reason I am building these systems is so that I can help share the love of ballooning that I have with people wanting to get into the sport. LimeLite is a small business. We don’t have to employ many people; in fact it is usually just me and one or two part-time employees. I do not have the burden of paying full-time salaries for engineers or seamstresses. I do it all: make templates and drawings, cut panels, sew, weave rattan, and bend tubing. These balloons are hand-crafted, and are built with American parts in America. And I do that at the best price ballooning has seen in years, and I am very proud of that!