Airpup

by Head Full of Air LLC

A kite-balloon offering quiet, long-term flight for videography, communications, and meteorology.

View all updates Oct 17, 2018

Airpup has Taken Flight!

Airpup is the culmination of a 10-year dream to create a quiet, stable, and easy flight platform by updating kite balloon technology. When I started I imagined a quick project: I was going to make a kite balloon, put a camera on it, and watch sheep herding from the air. I had 5 months to make it happen. I found an operations manual for a WWI observational balloon at the library and joined the Yahoo Solar Balloons Group.

One month later I had my first balloon, pieced together over weekends in a friends’ attic using dollar store trash bags. It was torn apart in the wind in about 5 minutes.

Jake Lemkowitz with a balloon

I had a lot to learn about balloons and kites. Undeterred, I scaled back my ambitions. I decided I would learn about balloons, then kites, and then return to kite balloons. I joined every online balloon group I could find. I made dozens of solar hot air balloons and wrote up a guide to their fabrication.

In the beginning of 2010 I joined the Grassroots Mapping community. After the Deepwater Horizon disaster we kicked into high gear, and have since helped thousands of people to take aerial photos with inexpensive balloons and kites. I had the honor of compiling our best practices into the commercial Balloon Mapping Kit.

Public Lab Barnraising 2013. I'm in the kite suit

Helium balloons are a uniquely easy and safe way to fly. Over years of making balloons and kites and training folks to fly them, it was clear that kites had a much steeper learning curve. Combining the simplicity of a balloon with the flight performance of a kite remained in my mind, but I questioned if anyone would want one as drone technology advanced. Then the FAA released their restrictive regulations, and many municipalities, including Portland and Seattle, joined in.

Over dinner at AGU’s 2016 Fall Meeting, I mentioned my dream of a small kite balloon to Geoff Bland, a research engineer at NASA Wallops. His enthusiasm didn’t just convince me to give Airpup a try. Over several brainstorming sessions, we worked through a series of fabrication issues and he connected me with the technical assistance I needed to make the balloon.

baby airpup

In a lull of contract work between December and February of 2018, I got a small prototype flying. I looked at my bank account; the prudent thing was to get some more work, and put Airpup down.

Kites and balloons had sustained me through rough patches in my life. I’d dug up that WWI kite balloon manual in the library because I didn’t have any where else to go, couch surfing after a house fire. Working on an historic kite with a friend had pulled me through crushing medical issues and the threat of blindness. The dream of flight had given me perseverance, and I was determined to persevere in flight.

I went all-in, and made the first new kite balloon design in 25 years.

Me flying Airpup at the Lincoln City Kite Festival


$8,310 raised

of $8,000 goal

103% Funded! Order Below

Product Choices

$5

Support Airpup

Thanks for helping make Airpup a reality! You will be rewarded with warm feelings, regular backer updates, and your name will be printed in the Airpup manual.


$10

Airpup Stickers

Thanks for helping make Airpup a reality! You will be rewarded with cool Airpup stickers illustrated by Justin Nichol, warm feelings, regular backer updates, and your name will be printed in the Airpup manual.


$25

Airpup Postcards

Thanks for helping make Airpup a reality! You will be rewarded with a pack of five postcards featuring Airpup in action and aerial photos from Airpup. In addition, enjoy stickers, warm feelings, regular backer updates, and your name in the Airpup manual.


$650

Airpup

Get Airpup-- the small kite balloon with a 500g payload capacity. Made in the USA, in partnership with Blimp Works. Add gloves and a wooden winder with 500' of braided Dacron line. Winder made in the USA from sustainably sourced birch plywood. Braided white dacron line made in the USA by Shanti Kites. Premium cut-resistant driving gloves are made from goatskin with a woven kevlar liner. Get smooth motions while protecting your hands.


$50

Winder, Line, & Safety Gloves

Premium cut-resistant driving gloves made from goatskin lined with woven kevlar. Get smooth motions while protecting your hands. A wooden winder with 500' of braided Dacron line. Made in the USA from sustainably sourced birch plywood. Braided white dacron line made in the USA by Shanti Kites.

Credits

Head Full of Air LLC

Mathew Lippincott created Head Full of Air LLC to further his passion for low-cost kite and balloon flight systems and open hardware. Through Head Full of Air, Mathew has created learning resources for NSF- add NASA- funded educational projects as well as led public workshops.


Mathew Lippincott

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