Jonathan Trappe's

F.A.A. Certified Cluster Balloon System:
Carl Fredricksen's Flying Armchair!

Walt Disney Pictures presents a Pixar Film: UP!

On May 29th, 2009 Walt Disney Pictures launched a Pixar Animation Studios Film, UP! Pixar's 10th animated film features Carl Fredricksen, a retired balloon salesman and active dreamer.

Carl spent his entire life dreaming of exploring the globe and experiencing life to its fullest. But at age 78, life seems to have passed him by, until a twist of fate (and a persistent 8-year old) give him a new lease on life.

Carl launches into adventure by attaching an amazing cluster of toy balloons to his home, and taking to the skies. Pixar has told such wonderful stories in the past, and this film continues that tradition. We expected great things, and Pixar delivered with a movie that is both funny and moving. And, it features a FLYING HOUSE that goes aloft under a tumble of balloons, rather like the cluster systems we fly!

Carl Fredricksen's Flying Armchair!

Carl Fredricksen Relaxing in his favorite (flying!) armchairPixar Provided Rendering: Carl's ChairCarl Fredricksen's La-Z-Boy has become a real-world flying armchair! Our cluster balloon team built a real-world chaircraft capable of manned flight and attached it to a beautiful cluster of giant balloons! Partnered with an FAA certified balloon pilot, the Cluster Balloon system launches into flight throughout the country and around world!

The armchair flights consist of a five-story tall cluster of colorful balloons carefully attached to the gondola, allowing everyone observing the launch to experience lighter-than-air flight in a very unique way! The aircraft can be flown tethered to the earth for static display at events, and is fully capable of manned flight to altitude-- when piloted by a gas-rated balloon pilot! (FAA rating: Lighter-than-air, Free Balloon, no restrictions.) The armchair has been piloted to about one-mile above the ground in free flight!


Flight Details:

UP Gondola!This cluster balloon system is piloted by FAA certified pilots, rated to fly both hot air and gas balloon practically anywhere in the world.

The flight system can be operated either as a static display, or launched into the thin air in spectacular free flight. When launching, the system floats away silently-- except for the excitement in the crowds that always seem to gather around the launch of a flying armchair!

To ascend, the pilot releases water ballast, until obtaining the desired ascent rate. To descend, balloons must either be cut away, popped, or drained of their helium. That is the way this gas balloon system flies!

We've flown the system at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Turner Field in Atlanta, the Metrodome in Minneapolis, and in many other cities including Boston, Washington D.C, and Philadelphia!



UP: Miami Dolphin Stadium


Registration and Airworthiness:

The cluster balloon system is actually a federally registered U.S. aircraft. While resembling a comfortable old armchair, the 'gondola' is actually made of carbon fiber, and is equipped with a 5-point aeronautic safety harness for the pilot.  After months of work and coordination with the FAA, this aircraft became the only cluster balloon system to ever receive an airworthiness nod from the United States Federal Aviation Administration.  In honor of the film, it bears the U.S. aircraft identifier N878UP, and has been issued registration and airworthiness certificates by the FAA.  (Click for larger versions.)

N878UP Airworthiness Certificate N878UP Airworthiness Certificate The chaircraft can be legally flown in almost any airspace or area of the country where any balloon can fly.  Pixar aficionados may enjoy finding the Easter-egg that has been in every Pixar film as it shows up in the FAA database and in all official documentation of this aircraft:

If you are interested in having a cluster balloon system launch, please reach out through the 'Contact Us' link.


With flight enthusiasts, balloonists, and volunteers across the country, we go UP!

Nidia with UP balloons!Cluster ballooning takes a team of volunteers, all coming together to send the system aloft. It is awe-inspiring to see a cluster system come together at events, balloon festivals, and airshows. To be one of the people that send one of these rare systems aloft is something many people will remember their whole lives.

Thank you to all the lighter-than-air pilots, crew, friends, and even animation students that have come out the the various airfields to send the flying armchair UP!




Event Photos!

April 23:  Miami, FL
April 27:  Atlanta, GA
April 30:  Cincinnati, OH
May 4:   Minneapolis, MN
May 7:   Regis and Kelly Live
May 11:  Cleveland, OH
May 21:  Boston, MA
May 26:  Philadelphia , PA
May 29: Washington , D.C.

Additional Accounts:
  - Star Tribune (.mp4 video)
  - UltraFlight Radio Interview (.mp3);
  - Ballon Sport Magazine (German);
  - BALLOONING Magazine

 UP: BALLOONING MagazineUP: Ballon Sport Magazine (German)




If you are interested in having a cluster balloon system launch, please reach out through the 'Contact Us' link.



Thank you! Together we go UP!