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The sport of ballooning is rich in history and tradition. It stirs the imagination and desires of both young and old. People become involved in the sport for a variety of reasons. Some do it for relaxations, some for competition. Many enjoy ballooning to be part of a unique sport most people only dream about.

How do balloons fly?

Balloons operate through the basic principles of gravity and heat transfer. As air inside the balloon is heated, it rises. As the air inside the balloon cools, it descends. To make the balloon fly, an inflator fan fills it with air, which is then heated.

Can you steer a balloon?

Winds determine a balloon's direction. Balloonists can steer a balloon, to a limited extent, by adjusting the balloon's altitude to make use of different wind speeds and directions.

How long does a balloon flight last?

The actual flight time averages about an hour. The entire ballooning experience, including pre - flight preparation, flight and post flight celebration, may take three to four hours.

What fuel do balloons use?

Sport hot - air balloons carry 100 to 200 litres of propane in stainless steel fuel tanks.

How high do balloons fly?

Balloons typically fly from treetop level all the way up to several hundred meters, depending on what the pilot is trying to accomplish. The world record in a special hot-air balloon is over 15.000 meters!

Why do balloons fly in the early morning and late evening?

Winds are generally most favourable the first hours after sunrise and the last hours before sunset. The sun's uneven heating of the earth's surface causes strong, variable winds. In the morning, it takes a few hours for the sun to heat the earth's surface enough to generate the thermal activity that creates wind. In the evening, the sun's intensity has diminished enough to reduce winds to acceptable flight levels. Ideal winds are 6 to 12 km/h.

Who can be a balloonist?

Balloon pilots come from all walks of life. Anyone with the desire to learn to fly a balloon can become a pilot.

Do you need a pilot's license?

Yes. There are two levels of balloon pilot ratings. The first is a private pilot. 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 private pilot must pass a written test, oral test and flight check prior to being issued a private pilot's license. The second rating is a commercial pilot. The holder of a commercial pilot's license may operate a balloon for hire and may give flight instruction. (For additional requirements on both ratings, please consult CAA for details).

What equipment is required for balloons?

Balloons include several parts: the envelope (the fabric portion of the balloon), the basket, burners and fuel systems. The material for balloon envelopes is made of an exclusive rips top nylon with tough, durable coatings for heat and air retention. The basket is made of wicker, which is strong yet, flexible and is aesthecally pleasing. Burners can come in single, dual, or triple configurations, and each puts out over 5.000 horsepower. Fuel systems consist of stainless steel propane tank (s) and fuel hoses. Other necessary equipment includes an inflator fan, two - way radios and some means of transporting the balloon from location to location when it's not flying.

How much does a balloon cost?

Like cars and boats, new balloons can vary in size and amenities. You can start with a smaller sport model for around $15.000. These balloons typically carry a pilot and one additional person. The larger balloons that can carry two or three passengers in addition to the pilot will range between $25.000 and $ 35.000 dollars.

How can I be involved without buying a balloon or becoming a pilot?

Many people start in ballooning as a crew person. In most areas, you can join a local club that organizes races and community functions. You can also join the ALTIUS, which is the organizer for the Festival of Ballooning, Baltic Cup 2001 and is dedicated to promotion of the ballooning. Or, the next time you see a balloon flying in your area, follow it and offer to help when it lands.