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with

Stokes Balloons

Stokes Balloons, introduced in the early-1970s, was of a different design of hot air balloon system. The Stokes system combined the burner and fan in one unit. The burner/fan combination was unusual as it was located a significant distance from the basket and subsequently the pilot.

In the event of a burner malfunction it was unlikely the pilot would be able to reach the burner/fan unit for troubleshooting and therefore made piloting the Stokes designed hot air balloon system not only challenging but potentially  unsafe at times. There were 

Pictured here, a mid 1970's built Stokes.

only a handful of Stokes designed balloon systems built, estimating only about a dozen or so.

To his credit, Stokes designed and built some of the industry’s first special shaped hot air balloons. Pictured is the whale balloon and the “Orville Redenbacher’s” popcorn kernel balloon.

A closer look at the Stokes built hot air balloon system. A closer look shows the substantial distance from burner to basket/pilot. Imagine how this might be problematic during operations, especially in-flight operations. Additional balloons featured here included the “Union Jack” Stokes designed balloon, as well as others utilized for marketing, advertising, sport and fun flying.

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George Stokes, a man totally immersed in aviation, holds to his credit both fixed-wing and thermo airship design. Stokes, poses with one of his many airship creations (black/white photo) in the early-1970s.  Little more is known of Stokes and his early airship creations

with the exception of his collaboration with Sid Cutter of World Balloon Corporation and the design  and  building  of  two  commercially  known thermo airships.  Stokes worked with Cutter and others on the Anheiser Busch airship program.

STOKES BLUE BALLOON BASKET IN FLIGHT 197
STOKES BLUE BALLOON 1975.jpg
STOKES BROWN ORANGE 1975.jpg
20190822_091158.jpg

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In 1979, World Balloon Corp. commissioned George Stokes to build two airships, one advertised Budweiser Beer and the sister airship advertised Busch Beer - both Anheiser Busch mega-brands. The gondolas were built from stripped-down fuselages of Cessna 337 Skymasters. The front engines were removed along with all nonessential gear. The rear engine, 180hp, ran on propane and featured a double burner system by RAVEN.

Balloon Fiesta 1977 with a couple of Stokes built balloons pictured in the foreground