FACTS ABOUT BALLOONING
Some one-man balloons
hold 30,000 cubic feet. The largest holds over 800,000 cubic feet. The most
popular size holds about 77,000 cubic feet and is about 70 feet high.
nylon or dacron are the most common used fabrics.
would not be without the "load tapes" which run horizontally or vertically or
diagonally and are made of the same material as seat belts.
plywood floors. Some older balloons have "gondolas" made of aluminum and
In stainless steel or aluminum tanks. These come in different
sizes, the most popular of which hold 10 to 15 gallons.
An altimeter to indicate altitude, a variometer to show whether
it is going up or down, a compass to show directions, and a temperature gauge
to tell how hot the air is at the top of the balloon. Each propane tank also
has a fuel gauge. Most balloonists carry a radio. Some do not. A radio is
required only in certain flying areas.
Not usually. If the burner goes out
and for some reason cannot be reignited, the balloon acts as a parachute and
descends at parachute speed (about 17 feet per second).
Not usually, since
most flights take place at low altitudes. However if a flight above 10,000 is
planned, oxygen is taken along.
Yes. A balloon Pilot Certificate is issued by the Federal
Aviation Administration. You must pass a FAA written exam, obtain a prescribed
number of hours of instructions, make a solo flight and a flight to altitude,
and pass a flight test.
To obtain a private Pilot Certificate you
must be 16 years of old. And would you believe that there are balloonists
flying in their 80's!
Usually a fan is used to blow cold air into the balloon.
When about two-thirds full, the burner is used to heat the air. In the absence
of a fan, cold air can be "flapped" into the envelope, but this is a difficult
With a striker similar to that used by welders to light
their welding torches, or with an igniter.
Minimum of three, but preferably five or six, particularly if the wind is over
A good ground crew can inflate in
about 15 or 25 minutes and deflate, stow and be on its way in half an hour or
It depends on how cold the air is and the size of the balloon.
Balloons lift better in cold air than in warm air. The larger the air volume of
the balloon, the more it can lift.
Usually soon after sunrise or just before dusk. At these
times the air is usually most stable and there is less wind to contend with.
With stable air conditions you can fly any time during the day but this is very
As fast as the wind is blowing.
Anywhere that the balloon can be launched from and where there
are occasional open spaces to land. There are restrictions about flying over
populated areas and airports. Power lines are not ideal places to fly near.
Yes. The fuel tanks are
buoyant and will keep the balloon afloat. And as long as the balloon is kept
inflated you can also take off again.
Yes, as long as the visibility is good.
If a pilot sees he is going in a direction he does not
want to go, he can either ascend or descend to where the air movement is in
another direction. But these directions usually do not change much at different
When the burner is turned on it is quite noisy. When the
burner is off it is very quiet. When aloft there is not even any wind noise
since you are moving with the wind.
As high as you like
but usually not over 5,000
feet. A typical flight would be just above tree top level in the country and
over 1,000 feet or so in populated areas.
Temperature decreases about 3 degrees
for every 1,000 feet of altitude. However, heat is given off by the burners and
is continually radiated out of the balloon. Since you move with the wind you do
not feel it blowing.
No. It is quite stable and makes an ideal
platform for taking pictures and sightseeing.
Pilots do not
permit smoking in their balloons because of the possibility of propane leaks.
Smoking in hydrogen (gas) balloons is not permitted because of the danger of an
So long as only the envelopes touch, no damage is done.
This is not considered dangerous.
It would likely bounce off!
The envelope fabric is much tougher than it might appear. It is possible to fly
a balloon with a hole large enough for a man to go through as long as the hole
is not at the top of the envelope.
Because balloons have so little control over their
directions, they have the right of way over all other types of aircraft.
Minor burns or tears can be repaired with patches and a sewing
machine. Major repairs must be done by a licensed FAA Mechanic with special
well taken care of, a balloon envelope should last 400 or more flying hours.
Since balloons can't be steered, it is seldom possible to fly
back, so a chase crew follows along with a trailer or pick-up.
A Hot air balloon gets its lift from heating the air with
propane fuel. A gas balloon gets its lift from lighter than air gases, usually
helium or hydrogen.
Yes. Balloons filled with hydrogen were
used by both the Confederate and Union armies for making observations.
Very much so. Ballooning so captured the imagination of the
people of Europe in the 1800"s that it was reflected even in the style of
women's dress. This is how the balloon sleeve and the hoop skirt originated.
When ballooning began to become popular in France in the late
1700"s balloons often landed on farms. The farmers had never seen balloons and
often attacked them with pitchforks. Balloonists found it to their advantage to
carry champagne to pacify the landowner. Balloonists still follow this custom.