A Hot Air Balloon consists of three main components: the envelope which is the big fabric bag that most people think of when talking about balloons; the basket, where the pilot and passengers stand during the flight; and, finally, the burner that heats the air to make the balloon fly. The burner does the same job in a balloon that the engine does in the family car.
The envelope is made out of rip-stop nylon, similar to that used in parachutes. The fabric has a special coating to keep the hot air from escaping. The basket is handwoven wicker, as a nod to tradition. Wicker is universally preferred by manufacturers because, even today, wicker provides the best combination of any material available: it is both lightweight and durable.
The burner uses propane, the same fuel that many people use to heat their homes. We typically carry approximately 30 gallons of propane (more in competition) and will burn between 15 and 20 gallons on a typical flight.
Balloons, like other aircraft, record the number of hours flown in a log book. The number of hours flown is similar to the odometer in a car. Depending upon how it is flown, most envelopes will last between 300 and 500 hours. Most pilots will fly a balloon between 30 and 75 times in a year, with each flight lasting roughly one hour.
Yes. Hot-Air Balloons are federally licensed aircraft and, as such, require a pilot’s license to operate.
Yes, we use a standard waiver of liability.
Absolutely! Flying is the safest form of transportation and, statically speaking, ballooning is the safest form of flight. Believe it or not, getting in and out of the basket is the most challenging part of the whole flight!
The tradition of a champagne toast after a hot air balloon ride dates back to the 1780’s when hot air balloons first took flight. On one of the first successfully manned balloon flights, the passengers carried along a bottle of champagne to enjoy during the flight, but instead of actually drinking it, it was used as an offer of goodwill to the farmers whose field their balloon had landed in. The champagne convinced the farmers that the balloon was far from being a fierce dragon, and acted as an apology or peace offering for disturbing the land and animals grazing in the field.
It is not "steered" in the conventional sense. A hot air balloon moves with the direction of the wind. However, winds tend to stratify in different directions and altitudes. A balloonist uses these varying currents to guide the balloon to an appropriate landing site.