Answering Some Awesome Hot Air Balloon Questions

hot air balloon

How cool would it be to float over your house or town in a hot air balloon? Official Kids Mag went to the Arkansas Hot Air Balloon Championship so we could learn something and not just talk hot air.  

The balloon is actually called an envelope, and is made up of panels or gores of non-porous fabric. At the top is a parachute valve that is used to lower the balloon when opened.  

The basket is called a gondola, and typically made of wicker. The main reason for wicker is the ability to absorb shocks or landings better than hard surfaces such as wood or metal. Also wicker is lightweight and that is an important feature when using air to propel you.

Attached to the gondola or basket is propane fuel burners that heat the air and fill the balloon. Hotter air is lighter than the air around it and causes buoyancy. This buoyancy is what makes the balloon lift.

Here are some awesome questions about Hot Air Balloons.  

When was the first hot air balloon invented?

• The first unmanned hot air balloons were used by China as lanterns during the Three Kingdoms era, (220-280 AD) for military signaling.

• In 1709, a Portuguese Jesuit priest Bartolomeu de Gusmão, was able to raise himself with the aerial apparatus called Passarola.

• The first flight with living creatures (a sheep, a duck and a rooster) was on September 19, 1783. The Aérostat Réveillon, created by brothers Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier took to the air in Versailles in front of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette. The flight lasted about 8 minutes, covered two miles and reached an altitude of 1,500 feet.

What is the pilot of a hot air balloon called?

The pilot is an aeronaut, or a balloon pilot. 

How long does it take to become a hot air balloon pilot?

Have at least 35 hours as a pilot, including 20 hours in balloons, which must include the following: 10 flights in balloons; 10 hours of flight training that includes at least 10 flights with an instructor on the Commercial Pilot areas of operation; two flights as pilot in command.

Do you need a license for a hot air balloon?

To pilot a balloon you must have a pilot’s license, or airman’s certificate, just as you would for an airplane or any other aircraft. … The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues balloon pilot licenses and training is for the Lighter-than-Air category, Hot Air Balloon with Airborne Heater rating.

What are hot air balloons made of?

Modern hot air balloons are usually made of materials such as ripstop nylon or dacron (a polyester).

How does a hot air balloon float?

Hot air rises. Heated air molecules “spread out” or expand and bounce around, and the space becomes less dense than the surrounding space. Increasing the air temperature inside the balloon envelope makes it less dense than the air, thus making it “lighter than air”.

How hot is the air in a hot air balloon?

The air inside is heated to a temperature of about 120°C (250°F). 

How much hot air does it take to lift one pound?

To lift one pound, you need 125 cubic feet of hot air. To lift a 200-pound person, you need 25,000 cubic feet of hot air.

How much weight can hot air balloons carry?

The average hot air balloon (with a deflated envelope, a gondola or basket, 30-40 gallons of fuel in 2 tanks) weighs about 800 pounds. Special Shape and larger commercial balloons weigh thousands of pounds. Once inflated and in the air it will weigh about 2 ½ tons!

How long can a hot air balloon fly?

Most balloons can fly for about 1 hour depending on the outside temperature and the weight carried. On a cold day with only the pilot flying, a 2-3 hour flight would be possible. Hot air Balloons can fly all year round with calm winds.

What happens if a hot air balloon gets a hole?

The balloon would fall to the ground. A hot air balloon stays aloft because of buoyancy; warm air is less dense than the air around it, so it rises, pushing the balloon up. 

Can you fly a hot air balloon at night?

Balloons fly best with wind speeds ranging from 4 to 8 miles per hour. Balloons will never launch in winds higher than 12 mph. … Visibility: Balloon Pilots operate under FAA VFR conditions. This means they must have a certain amount of visibility in order to be able to fly (which means NO NIGHT FLYING).

How do you calculate a balloon lift?

If you measure a balloon in feet, you get the volume of the balloon in cubic feet. One cubic foot of helium will lift about 28.2 grams, so multiply the volume of the balloon by 28.2. Divide by 448 — the number of grams in a pound — to determine the number of pounds it can lift.


Check out this cool Hot Air Balloon experiment!