What are the hot air balloons made of? What makes them rise?
The correct name for the "balloon" is the envelope, and is made of rip stop nylon. Most balloons are made in Australia at Kavanagh Balloons. However, there are also a number of overseas manufacturers. The material is very lightweight and coated on the inside to prevent leaks. Hot air is lighter than cold air, so when the air in the balloon is heated the surrounding cold air pushes the balloon upwards.
How are they inflated?
It takes about four or more people to inflate the balloon as it is difficult to manage on the ground especially in gusty winds. This can be a particularly fun part of ballooning and a definite group activity. To begin with the envelope needs to be stretched along the ground and attached to the basket that will be lying on its side. A petrol powered fan blows air into the balloon, the burner is then turned on to heat the air in the balloon causing the balloon to stand upright.
How big are hot air balloons? How fast do they go?
Sport hot air balloons range from 65,000 to 105,000 cubic feet in volume and stand at approximately 21 metres tall and can only carry a pilot and 1 to 3 other people. Commercial and special shapes are usually much bigger. The bigger the balloon or envelope the more weight it can lift. Once in flight, the balloons travel as fast as the wind surrounding them.
Can hot air balloons be steered?
The pilot has good control over up and down movement by either burning to go up or using the vent line to go down. Balloons can achieve limited steerage by changing their altitude thus picking up different wind currents and direction. This is how a competition is conducted by testing the pilot’s skill in reading the winds.
When is the best time to fly a hot air balloon?
The best time to fly is when the wind is at its calmest, usually less then 15km an hour. This usually occurs just after sunrise and around sunset.
How high do hot air balloons fly? How long can they stay up?
Usually most balloons fly between 500 feet (152 metres) and 2000 feet (608 metres) high although they can fly both higher and lower than this. The length of time a hot air balloon can stay up depends on the amount of fuel (liquid propane) it carries. Most balloons will carry enough propane to remain in flight for around two hours (110-150 litres), but the length of time that the fuel lasts depends on factors such as the weather, weight on board, and the temperature.
What causes the flame?
The propane remains in a liquid form while pressurized in tanks. When the valves are opened the propane atomises (turns into a gas) and is ignited by the burners, causing the flame we observe.
How do you get back after your flight?
As a balloon flight is a one way trip, a chase vehicle and crew follow the balloon whilst it is in flight and should be ready to assist the balloon as it lands and packs up. The balloon and passengers are then returned to base.
Can anyone fly a hot air balloon in Australia?
Sport ballooning and licensing is regulated by the Australian Ballooning Federation. People can learn to fly and gain a private pilot certificate after following a course of instruction: both theory and practical. There are restrictions on where private pilots may fly.
Commercial passenger rides and pilot licensing are controlled by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Commercial pilots are generally a lot more experienced, are licensed by CASA and operate both much larger balloons and work under an Air Operators Certificate.
What is the difference between a hot air balloon and a gas balloon?
A gas balloon is completely enclosed and contains a gas such as helium, which causes it to rise. A hot air balloon is only partially enclosed and the air inside is heated, which causes it to rise.