How Do Hot Air Balloons Fly?

How Do Hot Air Balloons Fly?
Balloons operate through the basic principles of gravity and heat transfer. As air inside the balloon is heated, it rises. As the air inside the balloon cools, it descends. To make the balloon fly, an inflator fan fills it with air, which is then heated.

What are the main parts of a hot air balloon?
A hot air balloon has three major parts: the envelope, the burner, and the basket or gondola. The basket is where passengers ride. Usually made of wicker, baskets protect the occupants and are lightweight and flexible. The envelope is the colorful fabric bag that holds the hot air. When the air inside the envelope is heated, the balloon rises. To descend, the pilot allows the air to cool and the balloon becomes heavier than air. The burner is positioned above the passenger’s heads and produces a huge flame to heat the air inside the envelope. The pilot has complete control of the up-and-down movements by controlling the heat in the envelope.

What is a balloon basket made of?
Woven wicker is used because it is lightweight, flexible and easily repaired.

What are envelopes made of?
Rip-stop nylon is the most common material, but polyester and other fabrics are also used. The fabric around the lower opening (called the mouth) of the balloon are usually made from a fire resistant material like Nomex, similar to the suits that firefighters wear.

How long will balloons last?
Depending on the care given, a balloon envelope may last 500 or more flying hours. The basket will last much longer, perhaps thousands of flight hours with proper care.

Can you steer a balloon?
Winds determine a balloon’s direction. Pilot can steer a balloon, to a limited extent, by adjusting the balloon’s altitude to make use of different wind speeds and directions.

Are all hot air balloons alike?
The differences are in the shape and size of the envelope, the deflation system, the basket shape and design and the configuration, design, and number of burners. All hot air balloons consist of a burner system, a basket and an envelope.

How many people can ride in a hot air balloon?
The smallest passenger balloons carry just the pilot! Balloons are constructed with greater or lesser volume to carry more or less weight. The largest passenger transporter in operation has a capacity of 28 passengers plus the pilot. Our balloons are designed to carry between 6 and 16 passengers.

What fuel do balloons use?
Our hot air balloons carry 60 to 110 gallons (120 to 200kg) of propane in stainless steel fuel tanks. We expect to use roughly 75% of the fuel during a single flight.

How long does a balloon flight last?
The actual flight time averages more than an hour.