In this issue we present our twelfth annual balloon buyer's guide. Whether you are looking for a "store bought" balloon or fancy tackling at least some of the construction yourself, our survey offers the only guide to new balloons offered in the U.S. Beginning on page 17 you will find a listing of current prices, product descriptions, and some company history for 12 manufacturers.
That is one less than last year. B-C Products, manufacturers of anhydrous ammonia balloons has withdrawn from the market. Sky Sailor Balloons of Costa Mesa, California, which gained a U.S. Type Certification early in 1996, did not respond to our repeated requests for updated information. It does not appear that Sky Sailor is a viable company at this time and has been dropped from our listing. There is one new addition: Sky Balloons (U.S.) obtained their U.S. Type Certification just days prior to this issue going to press. A U.S. licensee of the British company by the same name, Sky Balloons, was founded two years ago by former employees of the "old Thunder & Colt."
What's in a name? For balloon owners the choosing of an appropriate name for their aerostat can be as difficult as deciding on a color pattern. Naming a Balloon explores some of the names that balloonists have christened their aerostats with.
A review panel consisting of Rick and Cindy Wallace and Anson and Connie Stelmak judged Balloon Life's First Flight certificate contest. They had a difficult task to choose one winner from the 44 entries submitted. I am pleased to announce that Ken Smith of Port Jervis, New York is the winner of the $200 first prize.
The entries, in some cases, included more than just the "certificate." Bottles of champagne and other "items" arrived at our office in Sacramento accompanying many of the certificates. So as not to unduly influence our judges these extra gifts were not forwarded for their consideration/consumption.
The contest was conceived by Rick Wallace to stimulate ideas that others might use in creating their own First Flight Certificates. Perhaps you will find some ideas from this contest to incorporate into your own flight certificates. To read about how our judges determined the winner and some the "stories" that came from this contest read "The Envelope Please..."
Effective March 31, 1997 Balloon Life moved its World Headquarters to Seattle, Washington. Our Sacramento office will remain open until May 31 when it will officially close. Over the last four years the magazine has maintained two offices, one in Sacramento and one in Seattle. Printing and mailing of the magazine will continue to done in Sacramento, reflecting the long term relationships that the magazine has established with its suppliers. The consolidation of offices will allow more resources to be dedicated to our editorial mission-providing our readers with educational and safety information, news, and features on important events and personalities in ballooning.