The Flying Ladder was built as a low-cost, low-tech entry in the 1990 World Hot Air Airship Championship in Nottingham, England. It was constructed in Connecticut by a group which included Jim Byron, Jim Chubbuck, Steve Roys, George York and Bob Bird.
A note from John Christopher:
The concept of the Flying Ladder was to create a hot-air airship that was cheap to build and very easy to transport, much along the lines of some of Brian Boland's creations. The envelope is a simple vertical shape and it is unpressurised as you can see in the photos. The keel really is an aluminium ladder. The idea being that they could travel with the other components and borrow or hire a ladder in any country in which they found themselves. They even borrowed the burner and fuel tanks where they could. The forward-mounted motor with its two-bladed propeller, the two propane tanks and plastic seating etc were all attached to the ladder with straps. I believe the motor could be directed sideways to steer the airship.
It was registered in the USA under the Experimental category as N7148A. (Note that this registration is now allocated to a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter.)
I came across it at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in August 1990. Having met some of the Flying Ladder team at the World Championships in Luxembourg they invited me for a brief flight. Jim Byron was the pilot and there was a rear seat in which passengers sat astride the ladder. It felt very precarious. Note the back of the crews jackets visible in some of the photos, "Applied Archaic Technologies Div". Art or flying machine? It's hard to say, but that didn't matter because it was great fun.
John Christopher, Airship Initiatives