The Ideal Fireworks Display

Here in Indianapolis, they fire off the fireworks display off of one of the buildings downtown, so you can see them from about anywhere within a 10 mile radius. A local radio station broadcasts the music the display is synchronized to. It’s really quite impressive.

But it got me to thinking what the ideal display would be. I caught the end of the fireworks episode of NOVA last night, and it seems that the pyrotechnical experts like to use bridges, or locations near water - the reflections in the water enhance the experience. So the ideal display would be near water.

Asking around, it also seems that people really like the huge fireworks - the bigger the better. But there is of course an upper limit on how big they can get - they can’t be so big the explosion would reach the ground, and to get it high enough, you have to launch it. A really big explosive package would be harder to launch, due to its size.

So I came up with a solution for that - a blimp. You could drop fireworks from a blimp at a high altitude, working around both limits imposed. You could have some incredibly huge fireworks since you don’t have to fire it in the air, and you have all the altitude to work with you would need.

Finally, I’ve noticed a wonderful new trend in fireworks the last few years - shapes. They can do stars, hearts, spheres with rings around them, etc. Next year, I would like to see all of the Lucky Charms in fireworks form.

That is all.

I was wondering the exact same thing. My thoughts are that the Eiffel Tower display during the Millenium celebration had to come pretty close to the most perfect I’ve yet seen.

I don’t think I would want to do it from a blimp, which is full of gas & you got these explosives
going off…

Actually I like the idea of an indoor display. You have to use smokeless powder so there is less

Next would be each star launch is controlled by a computer wire (You can buy the software
but its pricey around $4,000) & each star has a radio controlled ignition in it (just like in films).
Thus the computer controls exactly when every one is launched & when it ignites in the air.
They actually do this except for the air ignition part (Which is now done with ‘magic fuses’ which
are timed to an exact second). That would do it for me.

Blimps haven’t used flammable gas for a loooong time, handy.

But that reminds me - I forgot to metion that not every explosion would be blimp-assisted. You’d still have the ground launch - including my favorites - the ones that do nothing but make a really loud noise and a flash.

What are those called? They’re my favorites too, the ones with nothing but a huge concussion, and when I’ve tried to buy them before they always sold me the wrong thing.

Ooooooooooooh, I HATE those concussion bombs!! Scared me as a kid and I still hate 'am as an adult.

Sadly, I never made it to Epcot’s Illuminations/4th fireworks show (really cool last year, and I was looking forward to this year’s). Ended up passing out (exhausted) early in the evening, and (former)Roommate had to take me home. Much better now, but still p.o.'ed about missing them.

Gotta go with over the water - preferably with a sandy beach nearby… dig a trench & pile the sand up to form a back support, line the trench with blankets & have extras in case it gets chilly…
Get ready for the ooohs & aaaaahs - especially for the big round ones that seem to fill the sky…
Sigh… I miss my childhood…

Just take the climactic ending of any fireworks show and run that for the entire thing. :slight_smile:

Best fireworks show I ever saw was in Hong Kong, for some anniversary of the colony or whatever. A half-hour-long nonstop spectacle, multiple massive fireworks over the bay, fired from a set of boats. The synchronized shows Disney puts out are pretty neat as well.

<pro pyro>

You’d be amazed at the sort of thing that pyros talk about over lunch. We discussed making a really big shell, and dropping it from a cargo airplane.

A blimp wouldn’t work very well, because big shells weigh a lot and blimps have limited cargo capacity.

The largest shell I’ve ever seen launched had a diameter of 36", three feet. The problem with that sort of thing is that you have to be at least seventy feet away from the crowd for each inch of shell size – so the closest that the public could be to a 36" shell is 2520 feet, close to half a mile. Of course, this was at a non-public convention, so we were usually inside the radius.

You can be much closer to a twelve inch shell, which makes it seem much larger. They’re also a lot less expensive, but still really expensive. 12" is near the common upper limit for many reasons:
1: Shells get really heavy. It takes two people to drop a 12" shell into a mortar, using ropes and stuff.
2: The concussion from the lift charge of a shell that large is very unpleasant. Anything larger tends to knock unconscious if it’s being fired by hand, which many shows still are.
3: The mortar has to be buried about three quarters of it’s length, which is about four or five feet for a 12" mortar. Digging that hole is a bitch, and you have to but a big rock or wide board at the bottom of the hole to keep the shell from driving the mortar deeper. It’s also a pain to pull that mortar afterward.
4: When something goes wrong with a big shell, it goes really wrong, and the sheer size means that you need more lift charge, which means the probability of something to go wrong goes up. These are called mines when they’re intentional, flowerpots when they aren’t, and OH SHIT!!! when you’re the one hand lighting that shell.

Most small town shows don’t go above sixes or eights, for good reason. By ‘small town’, I mean that the short, once a year show that dosen’t cost more than $20000.

rjung: depending when it was, my dad might have been one of the ones setting up and shooting it.

handy: a shell and a star are two totally different things. I’ve never heard of radio ignition in single stars, and I hope I never do.

lieu: Those are usually called salutes. If it’s just a flash of white and a boom, it’s a regular flash powder salute. The best are made with potassium perchlorate and German black aluminum. If it’s a white flash with a sphere of white sparks, it’s called a snowball, or more accurately a titanium salute, because chips of titanium are added and burn to make the white sparks. Hopefully some of you will eventually see the coolest type of salute, the lampare. It’s a standard salute with a bottle of a flamable liquid, so you get the boom and a big orange fireball from which you can feel the heat. Very cool, very dangerous, and mostly seen at pyro conventions. Recently a company finally got government approval to ship them; they’re a bit tame and use naptha.

Finally, as munch points out at the end, one of the other rising types are shape shells. I’ve seen circles, spirals, letters, hearts, triangles, saturn (a sphere and a circle), and so on. I’m currently working on a patent on a new kind, which will hopefully get more of them in public shows.

Maybe I should have started a thread for ‘Ask the Fireworks Guy’…

I love those 2" flash salutes from Pyrospectaculars.

Wikkit, are you making them in the US? Few people do anymore, most pyrotechnics come from china.

I would love to see a display you could do in your living room. A tiny, smokeless one.

I’ve seen many fireworks in my life, and NOTHING beats the Macy*s 4th of July fireworks on the East River.

Truly spectacular.


Gotta agree with that, althought if it had then been launched into space the display would have been complete


No, I don’t manufacture anything officially, too much of a legal hassle.

As I posted in another thread:

“Does the average person realize that most fireworks, both 1.3 (the type you see in big shows) and 1.4 (the type you shoot in your backyard) are made in China? Does anyone else think it’s odd that we celebrate our independance by supporting the country that may be the next big competitor with the U.S.? Some specialty stuff is made in Italy, all the perfectly timed and absurdly expensive stuff comes from Germany, and the odd new stuff is American, but most if not all of your average show is completely Chinese. I suppose they are credited with inventing blackpowder, but it’s the cheap labor that keeps the industry there, not progress in the field.”

A pyro display on the Moon would rock assuming you could light it.