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Product Knowledge / The history of inflatable structure

[11/15/2011]

The history of inflatable structure

he first inflatable structure was designed and invented in 1959 by John Scurlock in Shreveport, Louisiana who was experimenting with inflatable covers for tennis courts when he noticed his employees enjoyed jumping on the covers. John also previously worked for NASA on the Saturn 5 program however that did not have anything directly related to the invention of the first inflatable. He was a mechanical engineer and liked physics. John was also a pioneer of inflatable domes, inflatable tents, inflatable signs and his greatest achievement was the invention of the safety air cushion that is used by fire and rescue departments to catch people jumping from buildings or heights.  The first space walk manufacturing company was in New Orleans in a leased warehouse that also sewed horse pads. His wife Frances started the first inflatable rental company in 1968 and in 1976 they built a custom facility for the production and rental of the various products. They marketed the space walks to various children's events such as birthday parties, school fairs and company picnics. Their son Frank Scurlock expanded their rental concept throughout the United States under the brand name Space Walk and Inflatable Zoo. They have more than 100 locations and can visited at www.yginflatable.com Frank also founded the first all inflatable indoor play park called Fun Factory on Thanksgiving Day 1986 in Metairie, Louisiana. A second unit was opened in Memphis Tennessee called Fun Plex in 1987. Both locations closed after the value of the property become to great for the operations. The first inflatable was an open top mattress with no sides and called a Space Pillow. In 1967 a pressurized inflatable top was added however it required 2 fans and it got very hot in the Summer like a green house. That version was called Space Walk and adopted as the company name. In 1974 to solve the heat problem, a new product line called Jupiter Jump was created that has inflated columns that supported netting walls which allowed the air to pass through. Further enhancements of this style were developed such as a line of castles and several animals which are referred to as the Inflatable Zoo. In the early 1990's Frank created the first commercial inflatable water slide called the Aqua Tunnel.

The biggest bouncy castle ever made was in Canada by two inventors. They started in 1994 and finished it in 1996. Although it has never been blown up it is believed to have 61 floors in a height of 157 ft (48 m) and 400 ft (120 m) wide. Some people have valued it at $200,000 but health and safety officials have deemed it too unsafe to be used. There are 20 obstacle courses and one giant slide which is believed to be over 100 ft (30 m) high with two drops in the middle of it causing even more speculation it will be demolished. Other features include zip wires, ball pits, a main stairwell and balconys.
The record for "Longest marathon on a bouncy castle (team)" is 25 hr 25 min and was set by Will Scogin, Patrick Taylor, Miller Wright, David Wilson, Forrest Haynes and Jimbo Wilhite (all from USA) at Northridge High School, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, on 10-11 October 2008.

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