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Look, up in the sky! A super-sized inflatable!

Exteriors | January 1, 2012 | By:

A super-sized inflatable served a super show

The largest tethered airship ever made created the world’s largest projection surface and became the centerpiece for one of the greatest shows on earth, watched by millions of people worldwide. The XIX Commonwealth Games were held in Delhi, India, October 3–14, 2010, and included a total of 6,081 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and dependencies competing in 21 sports and 272 events. Opening and closing ceremonies were held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, highlighted by the massive floating structure. U.K.-based Lindstrand Technologies was approached about the feasibility of creating a helium-filled structure to float above the stadium, create a lifting body for displays and scenery, carry lighting equipment and provide a huge projection surface. The resulting one-of-a-kind Delhi Aerostat, designed by Lindstrand Technologies’ Lee Barnfield, was a 22,000m3 helium-filled structure that measures 80m long, 40m wide and 12m high.

The huge dimensions of the aerostat meant that it couldn’t be shipped to India in a single piece. The main body was split in four sections and assembled on site in Delhi. The time between the final events in the stadium and the closing ceremony was 36 hours, allowing Lindstrand just 12 hours to reinstall the aerostat—a phenomenal feat for a structure of that size. The total aerostat structure uses nearly 10,000m2 of Ferrari Précontraint® 402 fabric, plus approximately 5km of electrical cables to operate the various fans and valves required to maintain pressure. The Delhi Aerostat received a 2011 Award of Excellence in IFAI’s annual International Achievement Awards competition.

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