“Get all fired up over Science”
2008 School Year
Questions and Answers about Hot Air Balloons
What are hot air balloons made of?
The bag-or envelope, as it's more properly called-is made of a reinforced fabric called rip-stop nylon.
How is the balloon inflated?
The envelope is stretched out on the ground and attached to the basket, which is lying on its side. A small gasoline-powered fan blows air into the balloon. Then the burner is turned on, and the air in the balloon is heated. The hot air rises, lifting the balloon upright.
What are the baskets made of?
The baskets are made from rattan or wicker and each one is individually woven by hand.
How big are hot air balloons?
The typical sport balloons range in size from 65,000 to 105,000 cubic feet in volume and stand around 70 feet tall.
How do you steer the thing?
The balloon goes where the wind takes it. However, the winds at varying altitudes may blow in different directions and at different speeds, so the trick is to climb or descend to an altitude where the wind is blowing in the direction you want to go.
How fast does it go?
As fast or as slow as the wind.
When is the best time to fly a balloon?
Usually just after sunrise and one or two hours before sunset. This is the time of day when winds are calmest and the air most stable.
How high do balloons fly?
Most balloon flights occur between 500 and 1,000 feet above the ground. But balloons can fly at treetop level or go much higher. .
How long can it stay up?
It depends. Normally, the balloon carries enough fuel to remain aloft for 2 hours, but factors like outside air temperature, weight being carried in the basket, and weather determine the duration of the flight.
What kind of fuel is used?
Propane, kept in pressurized tanks on the floor of the basket. The balloon carries 30-40 gallons of liquid propane
How do you get it back?
With the help of friends who drive a van or pickup truck and follow the flight of the balloon (as well as the existing roads allow) and should be on hand to make the recovery and pack-up when the balloon touches down.
Hot Air Ballooning History
The Montgolfiere Balloon
Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, paper mill owners, were
trying to float bags made of paper and fabric. When the brothers held a flame
near the opening at the bottom, the bag (called a balon) expanded with hot air
and floated upward. The Montgolfier brothers built a larger paper-lined silk
balloon and demonstrated it on
At the time, the Montgolfiers believed they had discovered a new gas (they called Montgolfier gas) that was lighter than air and caused the inflated balloons to rise. In fact, the gas was merely air, which became more buoyant as it was heated.
In 1785 the French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John
Jeffries become the first to fly across the
In 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard lifted off from the Walnut Street Prison Yard
Rebirth of hot air ballooning (Modern Day ballooning)
Crew Positions and Responsibilities during Inflation
Pilot (Crew Chief)
· Communications between pilot and crew
· Watches inflation-anticipates problems and instructs crew accordingly
· Puts top in-matches Velcro tabs by numbers
Crown Line Person(s)
· Always holds crow line-watches wind
· Holds balloon down when not completely cold inflated
· Controls roll of envelope
· Maneuvers crown line to basket when told-stays behind basket after connecting crown line to basket
· Connects envelope to basket
· Pulls envelope out of envelope bag-pulls at load tape/seam junctions only
· Holds mouth open during cold inflation
· Watches for pilot instructions on adjusting the fan speed
· Pulls fan away after pilot instructs fan be turned off