Dream Title: Float Through the Sunrise in a Hot-Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloons


What to Expect:  Riding in a hot air balloon is serene and peaceful. Since the balloon moves with the wind, you don’t feel any breeze at all; you simply move through the air calmly, silently. Quiet floating is interspersed with the soft roar of the flames heating the envelope. For some, there is an initial feeling of vulnerability and perhaps fear. In time, this usually gives way to a feeling of wonder.


Hot Air Balloon rides are generally very early in the morning or late in the day since the wind is calmest when the sun is low. It is not safe to fly in the middle of the day. A flight costs, on an average, between $100-250 per person to go up with a commercial balloonist. Flights generally last about an hour. There is usually a strict no smoking rule at most balloon sites.


Suggested links: 

www.bfa.net The Balloon Federation of America

www.nationalballoonmuseum.com   National Balloon Museum in Iowa








How much do Hot Air Balloons cost?  They cost about the same as a car or a boat.  The most popular sport size balloons cost from $18,000 – $25,000 or more.  Support equipment (radios, fans, extra tanks, repair kits, etc.) adds another $2000 to $5000 more.


Do you need a license to fly a balloon?  Yes.  A Balloon Pilot Certificate is required. It is not the same as a pilot license for aircraft or planes.  There are about 4000 Hot Air Balloon pilots in the US and about another 1000 in other countries.


Why doesn’t the balloon catch on fire?  The envelopes are commonly made of rip-stop nylon, though some are made of polyester or other fabric.  The lower portion around the opening are usually made of fire resistant material such as Nomex, which is similar to what racecar drivers and firemen wear.


How long do balloon last?  With care, it may last for 500 or more flight hours.  Most sport pilots log 35-75 hours a year.



How it works:  Hot Air Balloon works on the very basic principle that hot air rises. A hot air balloon has three major parts: the envelope, the burner and the basket. The basket is where passengers ride and is usually made of lightweight, flexible wicker. The burner is located above the passenger’s heads and produces a huge flame, which heats the air in the envelope. The envelope is the bag that holds the hot air. It is usually bright and colorful and may be fashioned into a non-traditional shape. 


When the air inside the envelope is heated, the balloon rises. To descend, the pilot allows the air to cool. The pilot has complete control of the up or down movement by controlling the temperature of the air in the envelope. 


Before the balloon is launched, the pilot knows which way the wind is blowing so he knows which way the balloon will go. Air is in layers and different layers may be moving in different directions. The pilot cannot steer the balloon, but he can go up or down to find a layer of air that will allow the balloon to change direction.


During the flight the chase crew follows the balloon. The crew usually maintains contact with the pilot via radio. The chase crew have their own adventure trying to be at the landing site when the balloon touches down. The crew must also deal with gaining permission to enter private property and they take care not to disturb or damage the area.



History of Ballooning: Archemedes, one of the greatest mathematicians of Ancient Greece, discovered The Principle of Buoyancy over 2000 years ago. Later in the 13th century, the English scientist, Roger Bacon and the German philosopher, Albertus Magnus, both proposed hypothetical flying machine based on that principle. In the summer of 1783, the Montgolfier brothers sent a sheep, a duck, and a chicken on an eight-minute flight over France. Since the animals survived, the flight also proved that humans could breathe at high elevations, which had been a concern. After experimentation with paper vessels, they developed a hot air balloon similar to the ones used today. Instead of propane they used straw, manure, etc burning in an attached pit.

The first humans to fly in a hot air balloon were Marquis Francois d’Arlandes and Pilatre de Rozier. Later, Rozier died in an attempt to cross the English Channel and the popularity of hot air balloons declined. Not until the 1960s did hot air balloons regain popularity, thanks to Ed Yost.  His company, Raven Industries, added many safety features, which gave rise to tour companies all around the world. Hundreds of Hot Air Balloon festivals take place each year. One of the most famous is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in December.