responsibility to maintain it in an airworthy condition. A balloon
system does not automatically stay airworthy for 100 hours or 12
months from the last inspection. Youmust keepit airworthyby
performing minor repairs as allowed in the manufacturer’s flight
or maintenance manual. If you see anything that looks out of the
ordinary, call your repair station to find out if it needs immediate
Whenever you inflateor deflateyour envelope, it can pick up
smallstickers, foxtails, thistles, or thorns. If you see suchitems
stuck intothe fabric, seams, or load tapes, remove them assoon
as possible. They can cause holes in the fabric, or can stickyou
or one of your crew. Also trytoremove any sticks, branches, or
dirt clods before you pack up the envelope. Check the seams for
missing or snagged stitches.
Velcro® and other hook and pile material is especially good
at picking up vegetation. Whenever you get a chance, try to clean
any lint, thread, or plant matter out of your parachute valve tabs
or other Velcro closures. If you have banner attachments that you
are not using for a banner, attach the oppositetype ofVelcro strips
tothe exposedattachments toprevent anydebriscollection.
At one time, anoldpilot’s tale recommended placing dryer
sheets in the envelope bag while packing the envelope. The dryer
sheets were supposed to prevent static electricity on the envelope
envelope fabric was nottumbledin a warmdryer, allowing the
anti-static chemical vapor to impregnate the fabric. Instead, the
liquidchemical wickedfromthe dryer sheetsintothe envelope
fabric, leavingoily looking spots thatcollectdust.
dampened (not wet) towel.Use of any cleaner or
solvent not recommended bythe balloon manufacturer
can destroy the fabric coating.
abrasion during inflation, drag landings, and transportation. The
damage. If thebasketbecomesfilledwithdirtor packedwith
mud, cleanit out as soon as possible toprevent rot.
of a basket cover. A minor shiny spot can be fixedusing a suede
soften the suede. Once you have softened it, use #60 grit sandpa-
per to restore the texture. You may not get it perfect, so remember
the Three-Foot Rule: “If you don’t notice it from 3 feet away, it’s
Sometimes suede isused to cover panels or uprights. If the
suede starts to come loose from the edge of a panel, you can use
a goodcontact cementtoreattach it. Lightlycoatthe bottom of
the suede and the panel with the contact cement, and allow it to
dry for about 10minutesbefore pressing the suede down to the
Suede is difficult to dye, and the colors fade in sunlight. Any
material beforeyou try it on the basket suede. You’reon yourown
Abrasioncancause some wicker damage.Minorabrasion
perform a cosmetic fix accordingtothe Three-Foot Rule. Use a
sheet of #220 grit wet or dry sandpaper wrapped around a damp
Ifthewicker istanorbrown,heatuphalfa cupof water
(approx. 4 oz. or 100 ml) and dissolve 4 teaspoons of freeze dried
instant coffee in it.Using asmall brush, paint on the instant coffee
until you have a reasonable color match. If it is too dark, rinse it
out with water and trya more dilutedmixture. For other colors,
buy an appropriate assortment of water-based paints from a craft
store. Mix up a combination of colors to match the wicker color,
and brush it on. If it is not a good match, rinse it out and try again.
Allow the colorstodrybefore applying oil or varnish.
polyurethane exterior varnish. Okene, made by Pratt & Lambert,
is a commercially available oil finish containing mostly tung oil
and linseed oil. Other oil finishes may also be used. Use the same
type of finish originallyusedby the balloon manufacturer.
something, sand it down so it does not protrude. You can also coat
them withanexterior polyurethane varnishto keepthemfrom
absorbing extra moisture. If they have plastic covers, smooth off
rough spots withsandpaper or a file.
If the basket floor shows minor signs of wear, you may want
notwornthroughanylayersofplywood. If youdiscoveranywear
througha layer of plywood, contactyourrepairstation. Forminor
wear, lightly sand the floor. Wipe the dust off, then coat it with
exterior polyurethane varnish.
After youperform any minor maintenance orcleaning, make
the appropriate entry in the aircraft logbook.
Refer to FAR Part 43.3(g)The holder of a pilot certificate
issuedunder Part61 mayperform preventivemaintenance onany
aircraft owned or operated by that pilotwhich is not used under
Part 121, 129, or 135.
Refer toFARPart43.7(f)A person holdingat least a private
pilotcertificate may approve an aircraft for return to service after
performing preventive maintenance under the provisions of
preventive maintenance … shall make an entry in the mainte-
nance record of that equipment containing the following infor-
(1)A description of work performed.
(2)The date of completion of the work performed.
(3)The name of the person performing the work
(4) Iftheworkperformed ontheaircraft…hasbeen
performed satisfactorily, the signature, certificate number, and
kind of certificate held by the person approving the work. The
signature constitutes the approval for return to service only for
the work performed.