This past winter Neville Wallace, Keizer, Oregon, proposed a national standard for green/red zone maps used in ballooning. Utilizing readily available computer software, Wallace has developed The Balloonist's Marked-up Map System Handbook. This thirty-one page document describes in detail how to use a computer mapping system to create maps. The maps can be printed and given to balloonists in the local area or posted to the Internet so that others who might be coming to an area to fly can easily retrieve this information and print out their own maps.
The key to the success of the system is the local administrator. This is a person in a local flying area or balloon club who is responsible for gathering the landowner green and red zone information, keeping the map updated, and making the map available to other balloonists in the local area. By using a computer mapping system the task of creating and maintaining landowner information is less tedious. Using a universal map allows the information to be shared over a broad network.
Wallace has developed the system using DeLorme Street Atlas, an inexpensive computer mapping program. Information about green and red zone properties, airspace, and other pertinent data for balloonists are entered into the computer mapping program. Copies can be printed out for local pilots and crew or posted to a web site where anyone can access the information for free.
Good landowner relations is one of the most important aspects of ballooning. Readily available up-to-date landowner information about a flying area is as valuable as the most current weather information. Here is a system that proposes to make local flying information easily available.
Balloon Life is pleased to be a sponsor of this concept. Our web site http://www.balloonlife.com/ is now hosting the handbook and any maps that have been created. Anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can retrieve this information for free. The handbook is written in Adobe Acrobat format, which allows any computer system to read and print the file. If you do not have Acrobat reader it is available for free from Adobe. A link to Adobe to get a free copy is available at Balloon Life's site.
Our Special Report this months details The Balloonist's Marked-up Map System Handbook.
Freeflight columns by Don Piccard in earlier issues discussed a different type of balloon system he designed. One he called Pleiades. Pleiades, in Greek mythology, is the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, who were placed by Zeus among the stars.
Piccard was to fly his system in Europe last fall but problems prevented a flight. A reporter for an e-zine did "balloon jump" in Central Park, New York, but no one had free flown the system of seven clustered mylar balloons.
Enter John Ninomiya, a balloonist in southern California, who since the age of nine had been looking to recreate an idea on how to defeat gravity that he had read in a book. He contacted Don Piccard and two dreams were realized this past Spring. For Piccard it was the first flight and validation of his new "system." For Ninomiya, a life-long ambition come true.