|Publication number||US20050288114 A1|
|Application number||US 11/191,928|
|Publication date||Dec 29, 2005|
|Filing date||Jul 29, 2005|
|Priority date||May 7, 2002|
|Also published as||CN101267866A, EP1919587A2, EP1919587A4, WO2007016142A2, WO2007016142A3|
|Publication number||11191928, 191928, US 2005/0288114 A1, US 2005/288114 A1, US 20050288114 A1, US 20050288114A1, US 2005288114 A1, US 2005288114A1, US-A1-20050288114, US-A1-2005288114, US2005/0288114A1, US2005/288114A1, US20050288114 A1, US20050288114A1, US2005288114 A1, US2005288114A1|
|Original Assignee||Meadows Joseph S|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (12), Referenced by (5), Classifications (11), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §120 as a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/430,676, filed on May 7, 2003, which claims priority to Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/377,976, filed on May 7, 2002, and Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/448,141, filed on Feb. 20, 2003, the disclosures of which all are expressly incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to using balloons filled with helium gas, and more specifically, this invention relates to using helium balloons designed to carry and propel a single person aloft within a confined interior.
2. Related Art
People have used gas-filled balloons for transportation since the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph Michel and Jacques Etienne, invented the first hot air balloon in 1783. There have been hot air balloons designed to carry a single person. Such a device typically includes a compressed flammable gas tank strapped to the pilot's back and a burner above the pilot's head. The open flame needed for heating the air makes such a device relatively dangerous to use, however. Additionally, the burning gas pollutes the atmosphere, and the burner is quite noisy when in use. Moreover, the equipment associated with a single-person hot air balloon is prohibitively expensive to acquire and requires a truck to transport. And the diameter of a balloon needed to carry a single person is nearly 40 feet, making the balloon difficult to maneuver, especially in more crowded airspace. All of these disadvantages make such a device relatively undesirable and wholly impractical for widespread use by the public.
A helium-filled balloon overcomes these disadvantages. Helium gas is plentiful, non-flammable (and therefore safe) and environmentally friendly. Without a gas tank and a burner, a helium balloon is less expensive to acquire, and a deflated balloon can be transported by the pilot inside a passenger car. Finally, a helium balloon one-eighth the volume of a hot air balloon will lift the same weight so the diameter of the balloon for carrying a single person needs only to be 18-20 feet.
Even with these comparative advantages, however, helium balloons designed to carry a single person have seen only limited and obscure use in the past. In the early 1900s, people began using rubber balloons filled with helium gas for recreation. In this sport, men would hang precariously from nets strung over several helium balloons and race each other across large open areas as spectators placed bets on which pilot would be the winner. Perhaps because of the potential danger associated with a balloon puncture or a loss of grip, this sport never gained much popularity.
As recently as 1985, the movie “Leap of Faith” starring Steve Martin featured an untethered, one-man helium balloon. In the movie, the character played by Martin “flew” the balloon to rescue a small child from a dangerous balloon. What the movie does not show is the fact that an accident occurred during the filming. The balloon used in the production was not made from a rip-stop material. Rather, it consisted of a single layer of fabric and the attachment points for the harness used by the pilot were essentially glued to the underside of the balloon. As a result, the balloon tore as it hit the wall of the rock quarry where the girl in the film was to be rescued, and the stuntman piloting the balloon suffered a broken back. The production company destroyed the unsafe, poorly constructed balloon after the filming had concluded.
In 1995, U.S. Pat. No. 5,391,115 issued for an invention entitled “Low Gravity Jumping Apparatus.” This invention discloses a helium balloon for providing a buoyant upward force but it does not provide any features for making the balloon safe for recreational use. Instead, the invention focuses on the design of a special harness and frame combination that allows the rider to rotate his or her body in a horizontal or vertical axis. The use of such a device only increases the risk associated with the activity.
Moreover, use of helium balloons is typically subject to the conditions of the weather. High winds, rain and other conditions may prevent the use of a helium balloon, or may curtail the enjoyment of the experience for the riders. Further, the dependence upon wind for the movement of the helium balloon may limit its use, as appropriate landing areas may not be available due to the direction of the wind. Further, structures to allow use of balloons may be expensive.
Other drawbacks may also be present.
The invention avoids the disadvantages and drawbacks of the prior art.
The invention thus provides a system and process for a user to float and glide for entertainment in various venues. The advantages of the invention may include fitting existing structures to allow use of a balloon. Advantages may also be achieved by providing temporary structures to allow use of a balloon. An aspect of the invention may provides a system for allowing a user to float and glide for entertainment includes a portable structure enclosing a predetermined space and a device for allowing a user move in three dimensions within the enclosed space. The device includes an inflatable balloon, a plurality of lines secured to one another at one end and operatively connected to said balloon, a parachute harness and a fastener for securing said parachute harness to a free end of at least one of said plurality of lines. The balloon may include a layer of polyurethane-coated nylon and may have a deflation zipper that operates to deflate said balloon. The lines may be secured to one another at one end by at least one ring. The fastener may include a locking carabiner.
Further, the portable structure may include a retaining structure for retaining the balloon in the predetermined space and at least one support for supporting said retaining structure. The portable structure may include a netting. The portable structure also may be supported by at least one support balloon. The retaining structure may include a netting. The portable structure may further include at least one anchor for securing the support balloon.
Another aspect of the invention provides a system for allowing a user to float and glide for entertainment including a retaining structure enclosing a predetermined space and connected to a permanent structure having at least one side and a device for allowing a user to move in three dimensions within the enclosed space. The device includes an inflatable balloon, a plurality of lines secured to one another at one end and operatively connected to the balloon, a parachute harness, and a fastener for securing said harness to a free end of at least one of the plurality of lines. The balloon may include a layer of polyurethane-coated nylon and may have a deflation zipper that operates to deflate the balloon. The lines may be secured to one another at one end by at least one ring.
The permanent structure may be a stadium. The stadium may further include at least one seating section, wherein the retaining structure further includes a protective barrier located between the at least one seating section and the predetermined space. The protective barrier may include a netting. The stadium may further include a roof having an opening, wherein the retaining structure further include s a protective barrier located across the roof opening to prevent the balloon from moving through the roof opening. The protective barrier may include a netting.
Additional features, advantages and embodiments of the invention may be set forth or apparent from consideration of the following detailed description, drawings and claims. Moreover, it is to be understood that both the foregoing summary of the invention and the following detailed description are exemplary and intended to provide further explanation without limiting the scope of the invention as claimed.
The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention, are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the detailed description serve to explain the principles of the invention. No attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than may be necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention and the various ways in which it may be practiced. In the drawings:
The embodiments of the invention and the various features and advantageous details thereof are explained more fully with reference to the non-limiting embodiments and examples that are described and/or illustrated in the accompanying drawings and detailed in the following description. It should be noted that the features illustrated in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale, and features of one embodiment may be employed with other embodiments as the skilled artisan would recognize, even if not explicitly stated herein. Descriptions of well-known components and processing techniques may be omitted so as to not unnecessarily obscure the embodiments of the invention. The examples used herein are intended merely to facilitate an understanding of ways in which the invention may be practiced and to further enable those of skill in the art to practice the embodiments of the invention. Accordingly, the examples and embodiments herein should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, which is defined solely by the appended claims and applicable law. Moreover, it is noted that like reference numerals represent similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings.
A system and apparatus process for carrying and propelling a single person aloft in a helium balloon within a confined interior. Various aspects and components of this system and process are described below. While the present invention is described in terms of a helium balloon (hereinafter also referred to as a “balloon”), a propeller driven device and an inflated dome, it is recognized that other apparatus that achieve these results may also be used.
According to an embodiment of the invention, a dome and prop-bike provide a recreational area for using a helium balloon. The dome provides an enclosure for using the helium balloon, thereby preventing the balloon from flying off.
The dome may also be of sufficient size to enable one or more users to operate a balloon within the dome. By way of example, a dome may cover approximately 40,000 square feet or more, with a height of about 100 feet. Such a structure would enable a number of users to jump within the dome, bouncing off walls and each other's balloon. By way of this example, existing domes, such as those used for football, baseball and other sports, may be used. Other structure sizes may also be used.
For the manned balloons 1110, such as parabounce balloons (as shown) or balloons having a bicycle-propeller attached (not shown and described in greater detail below), it may be necessary to provide a structure between the stands 1130 and the users of the manned balloons 1110 using the floor 1180 of the stadium 1120 to avoid injury to the person and/or damage to the balloon. To achieve this, a stand barrier 1140 may be located between the stands 1130 and the floor 1180. According to an embodiment of the invention, stand barrier 1140 may be in the form of a net.
As will be understood by one skilled in the art, the stand barrier 1140 must be of sufficient strength to prevent the manned balloons 1110 from coming into contact with the stands 1130, 1130A and 1130B. The stand barrier 1140 may be made of ropes, nylon strands, wires, strips of cloth, netting or other material. The spacing in the net need only be small enough to prevent the manned balloons 1110 from reaching the stands 1130, 1130A and 1130B. Thus, if the manned balloon has, for example, a diameter of twenty (20) feet, it may only be necessary for a rope netting to be ten (10) feet between parallel ropes.
According to the embodiment of the invention illustrated in
As described above, in some embodiments, the stadium 1120 may have a roof 1150 with a roof opening 1160. As will be apparent to one skilled in the art, it may be necessary for a roof barrier 1170 to be placed across the roof opening 1160 to prevent manned balloons 1110 from escaping the confines of the stadium 1120. For example, if the manned balloon 1110 is a parabounce balloon as described above, a roof barrier 1170 may be necessary to ensure that if the person riding in the manned balloon jumps with enough force, or if the manned balloon is too light to descend properly the manned balloon does not leave the stadium 1120. According to an embodiment of the invention, roof barrier 1170 may be made of the same material and construction as stand barrier 1140. By way of example, if stand barrier 1140 is in the form of colored cloth strips having advertising located on the cloth strips, it may be desirable to have the roof barrier 1170 also made of colored cloth strips to match those in stand barrier 1140. Alternatively if netting is used as the stand barrier 1140 for example, it may be desirable to have the rod barrier 1170 made of netting as well. It is understood that if stadium 1120 does not have a roof opening 1160, it still may be desirable or necessary to use a roof barrier 1170 to prevent a balloon, such as a manned balloon 1110, from contacting the roof 1150.
In addition, roof barrier 1170 may be connected to the roof 1150 by a hard connection or by a moveable connection. For a hard connection, the roof barrier 1170, such as netting, may be attached directly, such as by tying, to portions of the 1150. For a moveable connection, pulleys with ropes may be used to stretch a roof barrier 1170 across the opening 1160 of roof 1150. Other methods will also be apparent to those skilled in the art. According to another embodiment of the invention, balloons such as parabounce balloons described herein, may be used to support one or more parts of roof barrier 1170. While roof 1150 is shown with an opening 1160, it is understood that some stadiums 1120 have a roof 1150 without an opening. Therefore, the roof barrier 1170 may not be necessary for such stadiums 1120. However, in some buildings, a roof will have a hard surface that requires some type of covering.
In the embodiment illustrated in
In addition to horizontal main lines 1250 and vertical main lines 1260, a plurality of netting lines 1270 are provided to complete the enclosure 1210. As illustrated, netting lines 1270 are provided both horizontally and vertically between vertical main lines 1260. Further, netting lines 1270 are attached at each end to horizontal main lines 1250 to form a net on the top of enclosure 1210. The netting lines 1270 may be arranged so that a manned balloon 1280 cannot escape through either the top or the side of the enclosure 1210. For example, if the diameter of the manned balloons 1280 is twenty (20) feet across, the netting lines 1270 may be arranged so that parallel lines are no more than about ten (10) feet apart.
While the temporary enclosure 1210 has been described in terms of a netting, it is understood that other materials and configurations may be used without departing from the principles of the invention. By way of example, the enclosure 1210 may be made of nylon rope, cloth or other material that functions to enclose the manned balloons 1280.
According to another embodiment of the invention, a mechanical device may be used to propel users of a balloon. This device may be used to propel users of a balloon within a dome, as opposed to just propulsion from the user jumping. According to an embodiment of the invention, a bicycle type mechanism, such as the prop-bike, may be used to propel a user. According to an embodiment of the invention, a prop-bike 202 is illustrated in
One or more propellers 204 located with in a shroud 206 are used to propel the prop-bike 202. The user sits on a bicycle type seat 224, where the mechanism has a control column 208, such as a steering wheel or bicycle handles: A bottom fairing 210 is attached at the bottom. According to an embodiment of the invention, bottom fairing 210 may used to protect moving parts, as well as to provide a platform for landing the prop-bike 202 and enabling the rider to get on and off. Control column 208 is operatively connected to a ruder 220 and elevators 222.
Pedals 212 are attached to gear 226 which is operatively connected to one or more propellers 204. As the user pedals the mechanism, the propellers 204 turn, thereby moving the balloon 200 and the user. The user may then steer with the rudder 220 and elevators 222, directing the path of the balloon 200. Other mechanisms for propelling the balloon, such as compressed gas, fans, or other propulsion mechanisms may also be used. As will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art, it will be necessary to adjust the size of the balloon and the amount of the lift required to account for the weight of the prop bike or other propelling mechanism (e.g., compressed gas, electric fan, motorized fan, etc.) as well as the weight of the user. Further, it is understood that light weight materials, such as plastic, aluminum, or other light weight material.
In the embodiment of the prop bike, a seat 224 for a user is provided with pedals 212 in a recumbent position. As illustrated in
According to an embodiment of the invention, the chain assembly and propeller control are surrounded by a protective casing, such as a light-weight plastic shell. As illustrated in
As described above, the prop bike 202 is connected to the balloon 200 by a tether system. For purposes of balance, it may be desirable to use at least three tethers or lines 216 to attach the prop bike to the balloon. Other configurations for the prop bike may also be used.
According to an embodiment of the invention, one or more balloons with a user (or users) for each balloon, may be used within a dome 100 as described in
According to an embodiment of the invention tether lines 20 may be used which are also secured to the fastening means 18 at one end. These tether lines will be of sufficient length to permit the balloon to float up to a desired gliding height, and yet keep the balloon moored to the ground. It is recognized that use of device 10 in a dome may be done without use of tether lines 20.
A release valve 22 at the top of the balloon permits rapid deflation of the balloon after use. The balloon also has a plurality of fill valves 24, preferably two, and bleed-off valves 26, preferably three. The bleed-off valves 26 permit a pilot to effect a controlled release of helium gas in the event the balloon floats away or uncontrollably. The pilot operates the bleed-off valves 26 using a tug line 28 operatively connected to the valves.
As seen in
Alternatively, the interior of the balloon 12 is reinforced with a plurality of nylon battens 52 that latitudinally encircle the balloon 12. There are preferably three battens 52, as seen in
The balloon 12 has a deflation zipper 58, as seen in
If the invention will be used by more than one pilot, then canvas bags 68 of varying weights may be attached to a metal ring or belt attached to the test lines 14, as seen in
Various additional modifications of the invention described herein will occur to those skilled in the art. All such variations and deviations which basically rely on the teachings through which this invention has advanced the art are properly considered within the scope of this invention and equivalents thereof, as described herein and claimed in the appended claims.
Other embodiments, uses and advantages of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. The specification and examples should be considered exemplary only. The intended scope of the invention is only limited by the claims appended hereto.
While the invention has been particularly shown and described within the framework of a helium balloon it will be appreciated that variations and modifications can be effected by a person of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, one of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other gas filled balloons may be used to effectuate the present invention. Further, any device which is lighter than the surrounding air may be used.
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|International Classification||B64B1/02, B64B1/50|
|Cooperative Classification||A63G31/00, B64C31/04, B64B1/02, B64B1/50|
|European Classification||B64B1/50, B64B1/02, B64C31/04, A63G31/00|
|Jul 29, 2005||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: ONE GIANT LEAP, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MEADOWS, JOSEPH STEPHAN;REEL/FRAME:016828/0101
Effective date: 20050712