I've only made 4 baskets. Well, just as I "made" my burners, I designed my baskets, I did lots of stuff, but I didn't do the actual making of the baskets, they were woven by a real basket maker, who made his living from making dog baskets and such like. The first one I only had a short time before it went to Renee Thornton, my associate in Southern Balloon Group, to go with her balloon Diadem. The next was my big basket 40" x 54", I think of it as 12 tank size, 3 Worthingtons on the short side x 4 Worthingtons on the long side. Renee's basket was 6 tank size, 2 x 3. This big basket was for mountain flying, 2 passengers and lots of tanks. So it was built high, to allow the height to include extra horizontal tanks and/or safety stuff on top of the tanks. Also seemed like the correct height of the bar at my local, giving sense of ease. Because most Alpine flying is done in the winter and you land in snow and this snow eventually melts and softens the hide protecting the bottom edge of the basket I protected the bottom corners of my basket with wooden corners. It's worked for me these past 20 years.
Forgot to take a photo when I recently re oiled the basket. This photo with my daughter (on left) and some of her friends was taken in 2001.
I've stopped using this basket, I started but never finished making some repairs to the wicker. So it's for sale, with poles, in it's present condition.
So we arrive at the third basket,
shown above, made in 1979, it was 23 years old when the photo was taken
in 2002 and is still in regular use. It's the same size as the first,
30 ins x 40 ins, ideal for 2 people and two tanks. The first had square
corners all round but since then I had spent some time admiring baskets
with rounded corners, not only aesthetically pleasant, I thought, but
also stronger with those rounded corners. More resilient. So my new
design had rounded corners as seen above. Not wanting to be accused of
half measures I also rounded the bottom edges to the same 13 ins
diameter curve. Since the basket is only 30" wide that only left 17"
flat floor which is where the runners were placed. It is not very clear
from the photo but the bottom edges are really rounded. It is a very
strong basket, the rounded corners absorb a great shock. Minor problem
I had not thought of. It's the sort of problem that hits the innovator.
If you strap in two tanks on the same side of the basket and then lean
over that side to pick something up from the ground the basket starts
to topple over, very, very, very, slowly. And there is not a darned
thing you can do to stop it. Even with only a couple of people watching
you feel a bit of a fool, in that basket gradually falling over. I've
done it in the middle of a crowded launch field…...
So here is the 4th basket. 123 x 108 cms. Rounded corners and only slightly rounded on the bottom edge. Works fine. Boring. It's for sale, with poles, if anyone is interested.
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