2002 Burning Man Balloon Project

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Smiling Dawn
Dawn and the spectators below both enjoy a lovely view.
Lo-Cal, Hi-Lift
Troy, one of our crew, practices calorie restriction for life-extension purposes. It wasn't enough to get him net positive buoyancy, but perhaps it added to his leaps.
(Participant, Troy, Patri)
Troy demonstrates excellent jumping technique.
Hangin' Out.
Tilting Playa
The playa is tilting, the playa is tilting!

You can see several balloon bodies here, dead of broken necks.
Steve Raspa, the artist of several previously memorable Burning Man projects, like Cubes real/imagined, contacted me before the event and asked to get a ride as part of his art for 2002. Us engineers were happy to oblige a real artist, and Steve showed up with an outfit and a cameraman. Here is a pic from the official BM site. It was great to have our project help someone else as well.
(Jason, Steve, Dawn)
With the balloon cluster weakened and all our crew having gotten to ride (except muscleman Jason, who was just too heavy) it was time to let participants ascend. We called for the lightest, and this lucky young lady was it.
(Patri, Very Light Participant)
Leaping Participant
It takes a village
The wind started to pick up, now that it was late afternoon.
We continued to lose balloons in the carnage.
Art Trumps Engineering
Finally, we had to call it a dayand cease giving rides. Down from a max of 24, the last 17 balloons (which still have a net lift of almost a hundred pounds) are given some room to play. We are by far the highest thing on the playa, easily visible from center camp.
We whipped up a quick flag, with the ABL logo on one side and a happy face on the other, and let the balloon cluster carry it up. It was way too small, but at this point we were exhausted, having been working on this since 5 am.
Engineering had given way to Art, and the balloons looked lovely dancing in the wind. Brian and I decided to hang out and soak in the ambience of our art, while gradually cleaning up our equipment. Every now and then a balloon would pop, and one of us or our crew would go pick up its husk (although sometimes eager spectators got them first).
Sad Tower
The tower is starting to look a little sad now, a battleground littered with latex corpses.
At last, my fiendish plan is complete. The tower of balloons has blotted out the sun, and those foolish mortals will yield to my demands or suffer in eternal darkness! Buwahahaha! (Picture by Jason Wells)
Towards the end, a paraglider floated by and circled the remaining balloons, drawn to our colorful aerial display like a moth to a flame.
Up and Away
Another very light participant who got to play with our rig.