Corkscrew Balloon III

(In the Design Stage)

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Spring, 1998

I suppose it's open to question whether I really need three hot air balloons. So far, I've only been able to fly in them one at a time. Without some sort of dismemberment, I expect that limitation will continue. On occasion, however, I do take both Corkscrew Balloon I and Corkscrew Balloon II to the same event, and I load up both baskets with people. Alf's BalloonsThis facilitates taking pictures of the balloons, since I can shoot the balloon I'm not in, while the camera-wielding people in that other one can snap at me. With two balloons aloft, we can also have midair food fights with the inflight meals. ("Look out for that cocktail onion!")

As I think about this realistically, it's pretty unlikely that I would ever have occasion to take three balloons anywhere all at once. Sure, I might decide to launch an invasion of some principality ... or the United Nations might request assistance from the Corkscrew Balloon Fleet in order to conduct a stealth attack on some evil empire du jour. In such a case, a larger fleet would most likely be essential. But as the Security Council so far appears content with its other options, and I have no present plans for world corkscrew domination, establishing any sort of legitimate need for A Third Balloon is quite difficult.

Still, the second balloon was built 'way back in 1996, and after a span of time my mind naturally begins to wander toward wanting "something new in hot air." Besides, even now, nearly all of my trips actually involve only a single balloon; I'll take one or the other, depending on various factors. In short, I built a Second Balloon despite there being no real need for it, thus why not a Third? If I were to have three selections in the "balloon pool," I'd have even more variety available when I selected one for a particular adventure. ... And so, I decided that I ought to take a least a first step toward a new balloon, by formulating some possible design plans.

Initially, I thought about creating some sort of "champagne" theme to complement the "corkscrews" of my existing balloons. Such a balloon would be a little different, but still within the general "flying wine in the sky" family. Champagne bottles and corks ... there were a few basic ideas that began to brew in my mind.

But then, right around Thanksgiving 1997, a new idea came to me in a flash: Perhaps I had enough inanimate balloons already. Corkscrew Balloons I and II depicted only corkscrews and the like. Well, I'm a huge fan of corkscrews, so there's plainly nothing wrong with that: Corkscrews deserve their due. But it occurred to me that it might be fun to do something a little different this time, to put some people on the side of my next balloon. And, if I was going to go that route, what else could I do but use naked female people? I quickly checked with a couple of friends, including one who had flown many times in my first two balloons. They confirmed at once that they would be more than eager to pose for a design and, ultimately, to soar naked through European skies, airbrushed into the fabric of a new balloon.

At this point, it was time to get preliminary sketches from the design artists. I discussed these ideas with LeeAnna Yater, as well as Jeff Brewington and Lisa Bender. They each did a bit of research, and within a matter of weeks they provided rough first drafts of possible Corkscrew Balloon III designs. We had all agreed upon the basic principles: Two or three nymphish types would adorn the side of the balloon, and as the viewer's eye drifted down over their forms, the bodies' legs would turn into corkscrews. (Indeed, I have a number of actual corkscrews that have somewhat similar designs.)

The basic concept would be something like a mermaid. But while a mermaid turns fishy in her lower parts (thus the "mer" -- or sea -- in her name), these maids would instead turn into corkscrews. So rather than being "mermaids," they would be ... well, perhaps "screwmaids."

I'd be interested in hearing what you think about the basic alternative design concepts shown here. Keep in mind that these are both preliminary drawings, and the final version of any design will be in full color and more fully developed. But should I go with "classic French ceramics" or "modern Fort Lauderdale aerobics"?  Would it be better with two or three maids? Should the reverse side of the balloon be the same, or should it show the backsides of the maids?

I invite you to take a first look at these alternatives and to think about how the ideal Corkscrew Balloon III might look. Your comments are always welcome at Thanks.

LeeAnna Yater designed both of the first two Corkscrew Balloons. I discussed with her some ideas for a new and different version, and she produced this rough sketch of a possible Third Balloon. Her design is partially based on several pieces of French ceramic art. LeeAnna Design
Jeff Brewington and Lisa Bender provided another possible design, with a similar theme, for the Third Balloon. The main difference is that the models are from present-day Fort Lauderdale instead of early 20th Century France. Here is some of the detail from Jeff and Lisa's design. Jeff and Lisa Design

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