For most people who spend the majority of their lives on the ground, the hot air balloon is an abstract thing.
Taking a flight in a hot air balloon will be a unique and unforgettable experience.
This experience is one that will also bring about a lot of questions.
If you are unsure of how a hot air balloon works and why it functions the way it does, then you are in the right place.
We will help you understand the inner working of a hot air balloon and some things you should know before you hop on a flight.
How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?
A hot air balloon works with the help of a burner and propane fuel.
Inside the hot air balloon, there is going to be lots of hot air.
This hot air is lighter than the air around it, so it will rise into the air with very little trouble.
This is a basic principle of science.
The more the air heats up, the easier it is going to be for the hot air balloon to rise.
When the hot air balloon needs to come down again, the pilot can reduce the temperature of the air in the balloon and it will start to lower to the ground.
This process can be done slowly so that there is a gradual transition from the ground to the air and the air to the ground.
When you are on a hot air balloon ride, the chances are that pilot has been through hundreds of other rides and knows how to get the balloon up in the air and back down to the ground.
Most companies are going to have instruments on board the hot air balloon which will monitor the wind and other things like altitude and speed.
Knowing where you stand and the amount of heat to release into the balloon is undoubtedly going to make the flying process that much safer.
Hot air balloon pilots also want to make sure their flights are as smooth as possible for those who are on board.
A hot air balloon is also equipped with vents.
The vents are used to turn the hot air balloon around in a circle so that people can get a full 360-degree view of the entire landscape.
This is a great feature and certainly helps to make the ride more memorable.
Overall, the functions of a hot air balloon can be quite simple.
You will notice that many parts of a hot air balloon flight and experience are left to nature.
What Are the Parts of a Hot Air Balloon?
Now that you have a basic idea of the way a hot air balloon works, let’s look into the different parts of the balloon.
When you purchase a hot air balloon, there are several different parts you will need to consider.
The three basic parts of a hot air balloon are the envelope, the basket, and the burner.
The envelope is what most would consider to be the balloon itself.
The envelope is the large colored part that you will really see when the balloon is flying through the area.
The envelope of a hot air balloon is made with a special material which will keep the warm air inside the balloon.
Many of the hot air balloon envelopes you see have been customized to have a certain look to them.
The look of the balloon can be used for promotional reasons and advertisement as well.
Some people purchase a hot air balloon for racing.
The shape of a hot air balloon used for racing is going to be quite different than one that is used for passengers or a general interest in hot air balloons.
Overall, you will need to decide on the type of envelope you are looking for.
For most hot air balloon rides you go on, the balloon will be rather large because it will need to support the group of people in the balloon.
The basket is the part of the balloon that you actually ride in.
The basket of a hot air balloon will look just like an actual basket.
In fact, they are handwoven with a rattan type material just as a regular basket would be.
These baskets are built to withstand some weather conditions and to be long lasting as well.
A basket for a hot air balloon also needs to be lightweight.
If the basket were heavy, it would require more fuel, a larger balloon, and potentially fewer passengers being able to be carried around.
A basket on a hot air balloon can vary in size.
Some baskets are meant to carry 15–25 people, and others are built for just one or two people.
Most commercial type hot air balloons are going to hold around 8–10 people.
If you see a basket that looks very small, it is most likely built for racing.
Hot air balloon pilots who race are going to need much smaller baskets so that they can get the speed and maneuverability they are looking for.
Another thing you will notice about hot air balloons is that they are high enough to hold people in but are also low enough that people can see over the side.
When you take a hot air balloon trip, you will not have a tremendous amount of room to move around, but you should be generally comfortable.
Keep in mind that the basket of a hot air balloon is designed for standing only.
You will not sit while on a hot air balloon ride.
Without a burner on your hot air balloon, you may not be going anywhere at all.
The burner is a mechanical device located inside the hot air balloon.
The pilot has full control over the burner to make sure it is going to be able to propel the hot air balloon properly.
The burner is used to heat the propane that is on board the hot air balloon.
The amount of propane needed for a flight will depend on the size of the hot air balloon and the number of people inside.
The size of the propane tanks will also change based on the length of the flight.
Hot air balloon pilots are always going to bring more fuel than they need when they head out on a flight.
How Are Hot Air Balloons Steered?
If you noticed, when we talked about the different parts of the hot air balloon, we didn’t mention a steering wheel.
The simple reason behind this is that hot air balloons are not steered in the traditional sense.
In fact, it would be quite impossible to steer a hot air balloon around in the air.
Therefore, pilots are trained in how to use weather conditions and wind to make the hot air balloon ride start in one spot and end up near the intended target.
The exact landing point of your hot air balloon ride may not be known when you take off.
The hot air balloon company will not know exactly where the wind and currents may take you that day.
For the most part, hot air balloon rides are conducted in areas where there is quite a bit of open land.
This is done so that the pilots have options to land somewhere that is safe and can be conducted with the least amount of stress to the customer.
Hot air balloon pilots will use the information on their gauges which display the air currents and wind patterns.
This information can help a pilot to steer partially.
As the hot air balloon goes up and down through different pockets of air, there are going to be differences in speed and direction as well.
All of this will be considered by a pilot who knows what they are doing.
On any given day, the passengers on the hot air balloon flight will not know that the pilot is not able to steer.
Trained pilots will make this process look easy, like they know exactly how to steer.
This means that, the majority of the time, your landing is going to be quite smooth as well.
Many people are very surprised that, when they go for a hot air balloon flight, they are not returned to the same location.
Most of the time, you are going to fly from Point A to Point B, as there is really no way to take the balloon around in a loop.
For those who have a car parked at the original launch location, the staff at the hot air balloon company will always come and give you a ride back to the flight’s point of origin.
Can You Fall Out of a Hot Air Balloon?
One of the main concerns people have with hot air balloons is the safety.
If you are worried about your ability to stay safe in a hot air balloon, you should know that they are generally safe.
Although there can always be accidents in any activity you participate in, hot air balloons are known for being safe.
With a hot air balloon, you will not be strapped in.
Once you get up in the air, you will be able to move freely around the basket.
If you are on a flight that has several people, chances are you are just going to stick to one spot and take in the scenery.
There is still no way to really fasten yourself inside the hot air balloon.
Without seatbelts or a strap of any kind to hold you in place, many people worry about falling out of a hot air balloon.
Luckily, this is pretty much unheard of.
If you remember, we talked about the basket on the balloon being rather high.
The height of the basket will be up to about a person’s rib cage.
This makes it very difficult to fall over the side.
If the basket height were closer to waist height, then you may hear more about this, but falling out of a hot air balloon basket is not really a thing.
One thing that may get a little rough while on a hot air balloon ride is the landing.
Since the landing can be unpredictable, you should be prepared for a bump or two.
Some people will say that their landing was completely smooth, and others will notice a gust of wind or pocket of air which made things a bit rougher.
It is a good idea to wear something like sneakers when you are on a hot air balloon ride.
When you do this, you will have a bit more stability as the hot air balloon lowers to the ground.
When you don’t wear something like this, be prepared to hold on a bit, so you don’t fall over.
Pilots do not take people up into the air when the conditions are poor.
With today’s advanced electronic and technical information and advice, you will not need to worry about unknown weather conditions.
Why Was My Hot Air Balloon Ride Cancelled?
You may have had your hot air balloon ride scheduled for months, only to find it canceled at the last minute.
This is a very unfortunate but common experience for people.
The hot air balloon rides will only happen if the weather conditions are perfect.
If there are any potential problems with storms or wind, your hot air balloon flight will be canceled.
After all, this is a balloon attached to a basket, floating through the sky, and wind and hot air balloons do not mix.
You will notice that most hot air balloon rides need to be scheduled in the morning or early evening.
These are the times of the day when there is the lowest chance for wind.
If a hot air balloon takes off during a part of the day with high wind, it will subject the pilot and the passengers to a great amount of danger.
These early morning and late afternoon flights help to make sure the passengers get a great view of the sunrise or sunset as well.
Hot air balloons cannot fly at night, so your flight will be scheduled to land before it gets dark.
If your hot air balloon ride is canceled, it is going to be disappointing, but at the same time, you will find peace knowing you were just being kept safe.
Most companies will do the best they can to reschedule you for another ride in the near future.
The hot air balloon ride is a fun and exciting experience.
The way the hot air balloons work is quite simple, and you won’t need to worry about any of this.
The pilots who conduct the flights are very well trained and will handle all aspects of the flight you are on.
You will not be responsible for lowering or lifting the hot air balloon, and you won’t have to check weather conditions either.
Trust that the pilots and the owners of the hot air balloon company have your best interest in mind and enjoy yourself on your flight.
Chances are you will not have the pleasure of flying in a hot air balloon every day, so this will likely be a unique and exciting experience for you.