Lindstrand all the way (especially on the bottom end front, there is no better), envelope wise Lindstrand or maybe Cameron, I like a proper parachute with gearing or RDS, no direct pull systems thank you. Special shapes has to be a Cameron.
Eric, good questions, but you need to ask yourself some questions first.
1. What type of flying?
A. Projected hours per year
B. What percentage Free Flying versus Tethering
C. Fun, Commercial, versus Competiton
2. Where will you be flying it? Altitude at Ground Level Average Ambient Temperature Type of Terrain
3. How many people do you want to be able to fly with you? Min/Max
These are questons that apply towards the size,fabric etc.
Unlike those adds for stocking hats, "one size does not fit all"
Best of Luck with the quest. It has been one I have been on for years! :-)
Unless you already bought a system, then get a system that you know will get you through at least your private license and maybe then some, unless you can find a good deal on a used system. If your looking long term, then get a system that has between 150-200 hrs on it. Get a system thats between 54K to 77K in size. I would think that 90k would be a bit large for training, but I have seen pilots do that. I always see used Firefly and Aerostar systems for sell on the used classifieds.
Exactly. Unless you have tons of money to spend without any worry, then get something used that will get you in the air. Remember too, there's likely more out there than just what is on the classifieds (although there's plenty there too!). If there's any locals you can talk to, they may know of people with systems going unused that aren't highly desirable for anything other than learning on.
The best balloon you can buy is a Cameron or Lindstrand. Next comes T&C, Aerostar, National, Firefly, Head, Avian. As far as baskets you cant beat a Cameron or Lindstrand basket. When you look at what you get for the price a Cameron or Lindstrand is the best for your money. A firefly with all the perks to make it equal to a standard Cameron is more expensive. The difference between brand price is what you get for it. If you want a cheap balloon go further down my list. If you want the best go further up.
Ive always liked my 16 pax van for hauling the balloon and crew. Has worked well for me.
yeah, cameron and linstrand bottom ends are awesome, but the Avian, Head and National envelopes are constantly out lasting the basic fabrics from both companies (seen it first hand, friend's Avian is flying with over 600 hrs while a cameron owner just retired his envelope with only 250 hrs. Lindstrand and firefly are making the smartest moves by switching over to the Diamond weave( Lindstrand) and Max-flite (firefly) in my opinion. At least now you will get what you pay for with Lindstrand...
First off, 16 pax vans are nice but unless you have a Quigley Conversion, they are terrible off road. I know, several of my friends have them and I am constantly pulling them out when they get stuck. You also have to modify your standard Ford Econoline or Chevy Van with Air Lift air bags or air shocks to keep your head lights out of the trees and have safe steering if you keep the balloon in the back.
Second, Cameron and especially Lindstrand are way overpriced for what you get in my opinion...which is based on experience from having flown them extensively.
I got caught up with what Eric was asking I fogot about the real best system to have dollar for dollar. One that you build yourself. Beats out all manufacturers in what you get for your money. I built two shapes for a fraction of the cost of a manufacturer and they lookd pretty darn good...in my opinion.