Naturally, balloons can lift spectators higher, for spectacular vistas, than any ground-based structure. Captive balloons were used for military observations in the U.S. Civil War, and now these craft can thrill passengers with unparalleled views.
The first Cameron captive balloon was installed at the Longleat Safari park in southern England. At present, there are several captive balloons operating in countries such as Australia, China, Germany, France, Sweden, England — and now America.
Why is it called a ‘captive’ balloon? The balloon is connected via a cable to a winch system installed below ground level, effectively mooring the craft. For control of ascents and descents, the mooring winch is remote-controlled by the operator aboard the gondola
The envelope is a helium gas cell, with an air ballonet which is pressurized by a ballonet fan. This ensures the balloon maintains its spherical shape at all times.
The gondola is circular in shape, allowing the passengers a full 360 degree view of the horizon and attractions below. Constructed from stainless steel, it is suspended from a load ring by stainless steel cables. The main mooring cable passes through the center of the gondola and attaches through a load cell and spreader cables to the load ring. The output of the load cell is displayed on the pilot’s instrument panel.
Equipment costs for a captive balloon, not including site preparation, land, or ancillary support facilities, start at around $1.2 Million.