Building Your Empire One Book at a Time
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?
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.
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 SWBookZone.com. For more information about Benoit or the Darth Vader balloon, visit the Darth Vader balloon website at darthvaderballoon.be.
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