Hot Air Balloon Rides FAQs

Hot Air Balloon Rides FAQs

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How do hot air balloons fly?

Hot air balloons fly by a burner(fueled by propane gas) positioned under an open balloon envelope to heat the air and make the balloon rise. Hot air balloons are based on the very basic scientific principle that warmer air rises in cooler air (A gas balloon gets its lift from lighter than air gases, usually helium or hydrogen.)By opening the parachute valve at the top of the envelope the balloon sinks. Buoyancy keeps the hot air moving up thus it doesn't escape through the hole.

The colorful envelope is made from the same type of cloth that parachutes are made from. The fabric is very durable and tough.

The pilot ascends and descends the balloon to move in a particular direction to find the appropriate wind direction as the balloon rides with the wind.Pilots get a report from the weather service to get a basic idea of where the balloon will travel. The crew of the hot air balloon follow by car to collect the passengers and equipment. Once in the air the pilot always keeps his eye open for possible landing sites in case of emergency. The space has to be wide open with no power lines and plenty of room to lay out the balloon. The pilot is in touch with the ground crew via radio link to pinpoint a landing spot as well.

When the balloon is inflated and deflated is where most of the work is. To watch the process of inflating and deflating can actually be more spectacular to a spectator than the actual balloon ride. As a passenger its a tradition to ask you to help with the setup and inflation, and the milking of the balloon after landing.

The flight is ended with a toast of champagne, this tradition dates back to the 1700's

Are hot air balloons safe?

Ballooning is a safe sport, but it may put physical demands on the participant.

The pilots of balloons need a commercial pilot's license to fly. They must have passed a written test, have had at least 35 hours of flight instruction, attend a ground school for basic aviation training and have a flight check. With a qualified pilot you are in very safe hands.

The pilots are so skilled that they can brush the bottom of the basket on the tops of a bush so smoothly that the passengers can pick a leaf as a souvenir of the ride.

Wicker constitutes what the basket is made of. It is flexible, sturdy and lightweight. Wicker flexes a little absorbing the impact when landing.

Tests have been performed to check the safety of a balloon and have found that it is possible to fly a balloon with a hole large enough for a man to fit through as long as the hole is not at the top of the envelope.

When can hot air balloons fly?

Balloons move with the air so the weather is important in deciding whether or not to fly. Balloon pilots will fly only when the weather is close to perfect. The sky must be clear and wind conditions normal.

Sunset and sunrise are ideal for balloon flight as the balloons need stable winds to operate effectively. The weather is cooler just before sunset and the balloon flies better since the hot air gets a better "lift" . It isn't safe to fly in the daytime when different pockets of air are rising or falling.

Storms are extremely dangerous for hot air balloons with the possibility of lighting strike. Rain also damages the balloon material. Very strong winds can easily wreck a balloon. Pilots only fly when the weather is ideal with calm winds, and clear skies.

Where can hot air balloons fly?

In the USA there are over 3500 balloons making the USA home to most of the hot air balloons. There are about 1000 balloons in other countries.

There are many parts in the world with ideal balloon flying weather. Many sites listed enjoy great weather where rides rarely have to be postponed. In some regions you can fly in the winter; which makes for a magical winter wonderland scene that you would remember forever.

Do I need reservations?

It is highly recommended that you make reservations.

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