Sadly, the first hot air balloon pilot died in one of the first manned hot air balloon crashes, but that was in 1783! Hot air balloons have changed a lot since then and are now one of the safest and most enjoyable ways to see landscapes worldwide.
Hot air ballooning is an adventure and the only passenger travel where the pilot doesn’t steer the craft. However, the air balloon industry can guarantee safety by having well-practiced flying procedures and a thorough understanding of preparing and preparing for take-offs and landings.
Want to know more about how these beautiful and spectacular aircraft operate?
In the following article, we’ll discuss how hot air balloons work in practice and why you should feel safe while sightseeing in these crafts.
A Brief History
The Chinese were the first to invent hot air balloons. The military utilized the balloons to send messages.
The military uses continued throughout the history of ballooning. They were often used to scout enemy positions. Their use was popularized in France and even used in the U.S. Civil War.
Hot air balloon rides are offered worldwide, from the deserts of Africa to the green field of England.
Although some airships today use helium or a mixture of helium and hot air, most sightseeing and recreational users just use hot air.
Helium is expensive, so it’s generally used for long-range missions or high-altitude research.
How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?
The balloon of a hot air balloon is an envelope made of lightweight nylon. There is an opening at the bottom of the balloon called the mouth and usually a series of vents along the sides and top of the balloon. Pilots use these vents to release hot air.
Fans and natural gas burners force hot air into the mouth and inflate the envelope. Since heat rises, the warmer air will carry the balloon and its passengers into the air.
A hot air balloon typically has anywhere from 76,000 to 599,000 cubic feet of air, depending on the size of the nylon envelope.
What Does a Pilot Control?
The hot air balloon pilot and passengers ride in a sturdy container, usually referred to as a basket. Although they could be made of any lightweight material, typical hot air balloon baskets have a steel frame surrounded by woven wicker panels.
Melding the two materials allows for strength and tradition. The baskets can usually handle anywhere from 2 to 12 people, depending on the size of the balloon.
Fixed to a metal frame in the middle of the basket, the gas burners allow the pilot to adjust the altitude of the ballon by adding or venting hot air.
However, a pilot cannot dictate the route the balloon will travel. So a balloonist will study the wind patterns of the area they are flying to judge accurately the direction the balloon will take.
Landing the Balloon
Since piloting the balloon takes experience and a good knowledge of the terrain, most commercial balloon flights are conducted in well-traveled areas under predictable wind and weather conditions.
Dessert trips are great because you can depend on the winds and sudden storms are infrequent.
A pilot will have the passengers crouch down when the balloon lands, as the landing usually comes with a sudden bump and drag.
Often a landing crew will be on the ground near the anticipated landing site to help secure the landing of the hot air balloon.
Hot Air Balloons Are Safe
While the pilots of hot air balloons don’t have complete control of the aircraft, these airships are some of the safest and best ways to see large expanses of the country.
The pilot will often use the vent to rotate the balloons so that the passengers can enjoy 360-degree views.
Truly, hot air ballooning is a great way to see the world while enjoying the spirit of adventure.