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For some time I’ve been toying with the idea of buying *lots* of Helium and balloons. I was not really planning to fly (as this would be far to dangerous) but rather just to reduce my effective weight by, say, 50-60kg so that I could easily jump to a height of 2-3 meters. The balloons would be attached with strings to a climbing harnest.

Now I just did the math. Please double-check it. Hopefully, I made a mistake.

The density of air is roughly 1.2kg/m³ which is (check!) 1.2g/liter. Now if Helium had no weight at all, then I would need to displace about 50kg/(1.2g/liter) = 42,000 liters = 42m³

This is about the volume of my whole office and would take tens of thousands of regular-sized latex balloons to hold. Price-wise it would probably boil down to about 10,000 Euros just for the Helium (… though I could probably get a considerable discount when buying that amount). Of course, filling tens of thousands of balloons is non-trivial in itself.

What a shame.

Of course, there are lots of other options (parachute jumping, paragliding, …) to “fly” a bit, but I wanted to have a more ground-based method just to lift me up a bit in a safe but yet fairly unconstrained manner.

Men are just tall boys. I guess that sort of applies to me, too. 😉

Recently I (re-)discovered my fascination for flying things … in particular remote controlled ones. Of course, one could just throw a TV set into the air to, strictly speaking, satisfy those conditions, but so far I restrained myself to small r/c airplanes and helicopters.

Both are made mostly for indoor usage. So, as you can guess, the helicopter has the “slight” advantage over the airplane that it can also just float in the air without the need of forward drive. [Btw: A physics lecturer once told me (and the remaining 80 students) that the Bernouilli effect only accounts for 10-20% of the uplift force. Much more relevant are, apparently, forces created by circular airflow. This flow also creates a “vortex” when the plane takes off and this vortex can then be dangerous for planes which are about to land/take off.] But then it has the disadvantage of being much more difficult to maneuver, especially as it’s a very light (and cheap) model (3 channels: up/down, turn left/right, forward/backward – really cool models have up to 6 channels ….).

Oh, you should have seen the joy and excitement in the eyes of my colleagues (… computer scientists …) when they saw the helicopter and could also play with it. A colleague bought a more expensive model for himself the same day.

So, if you have a geek in the family and need to get a gift for him (or her?): Conrad (an electronics store) offers airplanes/helicopters from 25 Euros to XXX Euros. Now I just have to learn how to properly steer my helicopter and then I’ll be the happiest kid on the world.

I also didn’t know that there are even (very expensive) helicopter models which can do loopings and fly on their back! I have to get myself one of those … when I grow up!  🙂


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