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Dark Lord of the Sky
An Interview with Darth Vader Balloon Creator Benoit Lambert

By Kat
Staff Writer

July 22, 2010

The Darth Vader hot air balloon may look like a Photoshopped figment of a Star Wars fan's imagination, but he is very real. This Dark Lord of the Sky is the brainchild of Belgium balloon pilot and Star Wars fan Benoit Lambert. The Darth Vader hot air balloon, after getting approval from Lucasfilm, was officially lauched in 2007. So how did a Star Wars hot air balloon get its start?

Where did you first come up with the idea to create a Star Wars hot air balloon?
The idea was in my mind for years, but it was just a dream and I never tried to realize it. For a balloon pilot, to have a special shaped balloon is a bigger challenge, so I had the idea to combine two of my hobbies together. I wanted to create a special shape balloon from the Star Wars movies.

How did you end up meeting with FanWars to discuss the idea of a Star Wars balloon?
It was during the release of Episode III. UGC (big cinema complex) organized a special show to celebrate Episode III and I had tickets to go there. I was surprised to see the 501st FanWars Garrison there and I immediately spoke with the chairman. A few weeks later we spoke about this crazy idea about making a Star Wars balloon and his reply was, "Why not? I have a contact at Lucasfilm. I will send him an email..."
  Star Wars Darth Vader Balloon
Image Credit: Benoit Lambert
The Darth Vader Balloon is both the Dark Lord of the Sith and the Sky

How did you decide to make a Darth Vader balloon?
Right away the idea was to make a Darth Vader helmet, because everybody knows Darth Vader. People who don't really know the saga know him and the story behind him, so we decided to made his helmet. We often receive questions about making a Yoda or R2 balloon, but only fans recognize these heroes. Vader is recognized by everybody around the world.

Can you describe the process of getting the balloon approved by Lucasfilm?
So FanWars sent an email to Steve Sansweet [Lucasfilm Head of Fan Relations] to find out if this project could be accepted by Lucasfilm and the reply was positive. It took less than three weeks to get the definitive answer and agreement.

After the balloon was first inflated in March 2007, it was sent back to the manufacturer for a few modifications. What were these changes?
The nose and some parts of helmet were not perfect. Overall, the shape was good, but some details needed to be changed to make a better one!

Appearance aside, how is the Darth Vader balloon different from other balloons?
This one flies like regular balloons--easy to inflate, easy to fly--but it's difficult to deflate and pack. We need six crew members and one hour to deflate it. The air stays inside small parts of the balloon and the only way to get it out is to ask to the crew members to roll on it. It sounds funny but it take a lot of time.
  Star Wars Darth Vader Balloon First Launching
Image Credit: Benoit Lambert
The Darth Vader balloon was first launched in 2007

Where around the world has the Darth Vader balloon traveled to?
We have visited: USA (NM, Texas, NJ), New Zealand, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Russia, and Thailand.

How do you transport the balloon?
We build special pallet to carry the balloon. Generally we send it by air (cargo shipping).

Does the Darth Vader balloon need more special care or attention than other balloons?
Yes for sure! We have to be more careful during inflation and deflation with this one. During the flight it is like others. Small damage to this one is more difficult to repair too.

How do people usually react when they see the balloon?
One word: wonderful! People always enjoy to seeing this balloon--it's one of the most popular in the world. Children sing the Imperial March--adults too! And people who don't like Star Wars like the balloon because this balloon is very impressive.

Who gets to ride in the balloon?

This balloon is not made for passengers to ride, but when we go to a fiesta, the fiesta can give us one or two passengers. So if you want to ride in the balloon, the best way is to contact balloon fiesta. ;)

If you could make a second Star Wars balloon, what would it be and why?
I am not sure about doing another one. This one is too special and expensive to make too (we paid for the balloon ourselves). But if i do one more, it can be a surprise!

What's next for the Darth Vader balloon and what's next for you?
Next step is balloon fiestas in Europe: Belgium and Germany. After that, we come back to Albuquerque for the biggest fiesta in the World and in November we will go to Mexico (festival at Lèon). Next year, we hope to be present at more of the U.S. fiestas.

A big thanks to Benoit Lambert for taking the time to share his story with For more information about Benoit or the Darth Vader balloon, visit the Darth Vader balloon website at

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