The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tissue and Beer Can Hot Air Balloon

I found this cool and simple plan for a hot air balloon and inflater in a vintage issue of American Aircraft Modeler. Tissue paper a couple of tin cans and you're ready to go. Looks like a lot of fun.

Here's the full plan:
Tissue Paper and Beer Can Hot Air Balloon

Plan by Roy W. Beeching, Jr.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Smith,

I recently came across your online scan of this tissue hot-air balloon article from the September 1968 issue of "American Aircraft Modeler" magazine. Flame retardant tissue is now available (please see below), which makes these balloons completely safe.

A friend of mine in England, Keith Sanders, runs the Northcote Heavy Horse Centre, and this article would be perfect for events he is working on. Keith's centre (see: ) is a sanctuary and retirement home for elderly and handicapped heavy horses (the British term for draft horses). He is developing an old-style balloon exhibition/racing event for centre "open house" visitor days, and I have been helping him gather the plans and materials for traditional British "Guy Fawkes Night" tissue paper fire balloons (using flame-retardant art tissue for these modern replicas).

I have been flying similar balloons for some time. To prevent the balloons from catching fire at launch or in the air, I make them out of flame-retardant tissue. At least two firms (Seaman Paper Company and Confetti Magic) make this colored tissue paper. I bought one ream each of red and white tissue from one of Seaman Paper Company's retailers, called Artistry In Motion (I have included both of their e-mail addresses and web site links below). Artistry In Motion cuts the 20" X 30" tissue sheets into confetti, and I made arrangements with their representative Eddie Gonzales (his e-mail address is included below) to purchase the un-cut tissue sheets.

This tissue is indeed fireproof. I tried to burn samples of it with a match, and it only turned black while making no flame of its own. The tissue works very well for paper hot-air balloons. Below is the contact information for Seaman Paper Company, Artistry In Motion, and Confetti Magic:

Seaman Paper Company of Massachusetts, Inc.
51 Main Street
Otter River, MA 01436

Web Site URL:

Telephone: (978) 939-2146

Fax: (978) 939-2359

Artistry In Motion
Attention: Mr. Eddie Gonzales
15101 Keswick St.

Van Nuys, CA 91405

Web Site URL:

E-mail (Eddie Gonzalez):

E-mail: (Main):

Telephone (818) 994-7388

Fax (818) 994-7688

Confetti Magic Ltd
Rocket Park

Web Site URL:
E-mail: (Ian Woodroof):
Telephone 01582 723502

Fax 01582 485545

I hope this information will be helpful.

Sincerely Yours,

J. Jason Wentworth

Anonymous said...

Hello Will,

An excellent book on building model hot-air balloons is "How To Make and Fly Model Hot-Air Balloons" by Ray Morse (published in Great Britain in 1978 by John Murray Publishers Ltd. and published in the USA in 1979 by the David McKay Company, Inc.). Here is an online scan of one of the book's chapters: .

From about the mid-1800s up until the beginning of the second World War, 3 ft. - 4 ft. diameter pear-shaped tissue paper balloons of this type were commonly called Guy Fawkes Night balloons in Great Britain and Fourth of July balloons in the USA, often being flown on those respective national holidays as a "finale" after the fireworks displays. These balloons were also popular additions at fetes, parties, and other outdoor celebrations. The Overflite web site (at: ) has a wealth of information on these balloons.

Also, there is an Italian group called A.R.I.A. that builds and flies paper hot-air balloons as art objects. They have only one page in English on their web site (see: ), but you can translate it either by looking it up on and choosing "Translate This Page" or by copying-and-pasting the text onto .

I was surprised to discover that paper hot-air balloons are also used in Christian religious festivals in some countries. In the Greek Orthodox Church's parish of Leonidion, the "Aerostat of Leonidion" is released at the climax of the Easter worship service. This web page (see: ) has assembly plans and historical information on this colorful paper hot-air balloon.

Here is the web site address for an elementary school model hot-air balloon project web page (see: ). Also, here is a model hot-air balloon project web page that uses a different method for joining the balloon envelope gores together (see: ).

-- Jason

Jean Morrison said...

Thanks for publishing the tissue hot-air balloon article from American Aircraft Modeler. The author, Roy William Beeching was my Great Uncle. The first time I met him, he heated up his cans and launched a balloon for me and my three big brothers and a sister. The boys took off running through the neighborhood to bring it back. We were amazed and he instantly received favorite relative status. So excited to find this article --sparking wonderful memories and giving opportunity to re-create the craft and share with my own children. Thanks also to Jason's comment and information on the availability of flame retardant tissue. Thanks for stirring up some great memories!

Anonymous said...

Hello Jean, you're most welcome for the information. I love this hobby/sport/art form of model hot air ballooning, as it is inexpensive, stimulates creativity, and doesn't require batteries! :-) I've just introduced a friend of mine in England to this activity. Also:

I was intrigued to check the blog again this morning (it's been a while since I last did) and read your memories of your Great Uncle Roy William Beeching, who wrote the September 1968 "American Aircraft Modeler" article! What a small world, eh?

-- J. Jason Wentworth