Hot air balloon is shaped like Darth Vader's helmet

A reason for Cessna pilots to arm themselves: A hot air balloon right out of Star Wars.

I just came across this link to what must one of the more extreme forms of Star Wars fandom to extrude itself onto the Internet in recent memory: A hot air balloon in the shape of Darth Vader's helmet. (Via SciFi Tech and Boing Boing.)

It was created by a mad Belgian inventor named Benoit Lambert, who, according to, received permission from Lucasfilm to build the balloon as long as it was used for non-commercial activities. It can carry two passengers and a pilot. There's no indication of when Lambert will build a lighter-than-air Death Star.

That's all fine, but as a pilot of fixed-wing planes myself, it would be more than a little worrisome to see Darth Vader's head looming up unexpectedly in the windscreen. According to federal aviation rules (see FAR 91.113), balloons supposedly have the right-of-way over all other aircraft. But the FARs say nothing about when it's Darth Vader's head -- which is why it's high time for us pilots to outfit our Cessnas with some badly-needed offensive weaponry.

About the author

Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.


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