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Facts About Hot Air Balloons

What are hot air balloons made of?

The balloon, more properly called the envelope, is made of reinforced nylon (certain balloons are made of Dacron). Despite its very lightweight, this material is very resistant. The cloth's interior is leak-proofed.

What is the basket made of?

Baskets are made of rattan, and entirely hand woven.

How big is a hot air balloon?

A typical hot air balloon has a volume of 2000 to 3000 cubic metres, and is about 25 metres in height. RIGA hot air balloon, for example, are in the 2549 cubic meters range.

How does balloon fly?

Balloons operate through the basic principles of gravity and heat transfer. As air inside the envelope is heated, it rises. As the air inside the envelope cools, it descends.

How are balloons inflated?

Inflating a hot air balloon requires a team effort, since a balloon is very cumbersome on the ground. If the wind flares up, it may take a four-person team to inflate a hot air balloon. The first step is to spread out the envelope on the ground, and then attach it to the basket, which is laid down on its side. Using a small gas fan, air is blown into the envelope. The burner is then ignited to heat up the air already inside the envelope. The heated air rises and brings the balloon to its vertical position.

How high can a hot air balloon fly?

Mostly hot air balloons fly at altitudes of 300 to 500 metres. But they can also choose to skim the treetops, or fly much, much higher. It depends on what the pilot is trying to accomplish. The world record in a special hot air balloon is over 15 000 meters.

How is a hot air balloon steered?

A hot air balloon is not really "steered". Winds determine a balloon's direction. It goes where the prevailing wind takes it. However, since winds blow in varying directions and speeds at different altitudes, a pilot finds the required wind direction by choosing the right altitude.

How fast can a hot air balloon fly?

It is as fast, or as slow, as the wind that carries it. Since a hot air balloon has no propulsion system, speed is completely dependent on wind velocity.

When is the best time to fly in a hot air balloon?

Just after sunrise or an hour or two before sunset, when winds are usually calm and the air is most stable. Ideal winds are 6 - 12 km/h.

How long does a flight last?

Usually a hot air balloon carries enough propane for a two-hour flight, but factors such as air temperature, total basket weight (including passengers) and time of day may influence duration and how long the flight will be.

What type of fuel is used?

Propane, kept in pressurized stainless steel fuel tanks attached to the basket inside corners. Sport hot air balloon carries 100 - 200 litres of liquid propane.

The instrument panel?

Altimeter: altitude indicator.

Variometer: measures speed of ascent.

Thermometer: indicates air temperature inside the envelope.

Do you need a pilot's license?

YES. The pilot must have at least 16 hours of flight time in free balloons, which must include six flights under the supervision of an instructor. The pilot must pass a written, oral tests and flight check prior to being issued a pilot's license. (For additional requirements, please consult CAA for details.)

What can be a balloonist?

Balloonists come from all walks of life. Anyone with the desire to learn to fly a balloon can become a pilot. Many people start in ballooning as a crew person.

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