What type of fuel is used for the balloon's burners?
Hot air provides the lift required for flight. To heat the air inside the balloon, the burners are fueled by L.P.G. (Liquid Propane Gas) The burners do not run continuously, only to heat the air as required to ascend or maintain buoyancy. The on-board instrumentation measures envelope temperature at the top of the balloon.
How tall are most hot air balloons?
Balloons come in all shapes and sizes. Average size balloons range from 70 to 85 feet tall and are about 60 feet in diameter at the equator of the balloon envelope.
Why do balloon flights take place so early in the morning?
Ballooning is an early morning adventure because of the sun! As the sun rises it heats the air and creates turbulence. Balloons need cool, stable, and calm conditions to operate effectively and the hours following sunrise are most suitable. Since ballooning is the only form of flight which moves with the wind, weather is most important in the decision to fly. The pilot cannot directly steer but chooses altitude carefully, utilizing wind currents to guide the balloon towards a convenient landing site. If the balloon was operated later in the day, strong breezes and thermals would make the activity more dangerous. Besides, it’s a great time to be up, and the mornings are a great time for a hot air balloon adventure in Metrowest or greater Boston!
How is the balloon inflated?
The envelope is unpacked and stretched out, then attached to the basket which is lying on its side. A powerful fan is used to "cold inflate" the envelope with ambient air. Once the balloon is inflated with cold air, the air is heated by the burner and the envelope rises above the basket. standing it upright. With further heating, there is sufficient lift for the balloon to fly.
Why is the basket made of wicker?
Wicker is certianly the traditional material dating back to early days of ballooning. Wicker has proven to be very strong for its weight and flexibility. It is by far the most resilient material for the task.
What are balloons made of?
Balloon envelopes are made of ripstop nylon supported on a frame of kevlar ropes and high grade webbing. The fabric is coated to keep the hot air from escaping.
How is the balloon steered?
Balloons are steered by rising or descending to catch winds at differing directions, but the filight is "at the mercy of the wind". By choosing different altitudes some directional control is possible by ascending or descending into air currents going in a different direction, this information is checked prior to take off be releasing a small helium balloon called a pibal, and by consulting up to date weather reports. The pilot can raise or lower the altitude of the balloon by controlling the temperature inside the balloon.
How high do balloons fly?
Most balloonists enjoy low level flight as there is more to be seen close to the ground. We cross over some of the many lakes and ponds in the area, often observing local wildlife such as deer, blue herons, birds of prey and many forms of wildlife unique to the wetlands and forests of New England. In New England we fly balloons at altitudes up to 6,000 to 7,500 feet but a typical balloon flight will usually be anywhere from tree top level to approximately 2,000 ft.
How far does a balloon fly?
That depends on the wind direction, temperature, payload, wind speed and other factors. Usually a flight is anywhere from a few miles to 10-20 miles. The take off location may vary depending on wind direction.
Is wind required to fly?
No, but it helps! Most balloonists prefer about 2-6 miles per hour surface wind. We do need some wind!
What do you hear while you’re flying?
A balloon flight is a truly unique experience. It's like a slow motion carpet ride! You travel with the wind, so when the burner is off, it is completely quiet. It’s easy to hear sounds drifting up from below: dogs barking, birds singing, and many greetings from homeowners.
Are there regulations covering Hot Air Balloon Flights?
Balloons are fully registered aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and are subject to regular airworthiness checks by authorized personnel. Pilots are certified by the FAA for lighter-than-air aircraft. Pilots need to have different levels of experience before they are allowed to progress to be commercial pilots, and this is carefully monitored by the FAA.
I have a fear of heights. Is this a problem?
Balloon flight is very gentle and stable. Because you start from the ground and gently lift up, rather than looking over the edge of a building, the sensation is very different. If you are uncertain, we recommend that you try 'ballooning' at the end of a 'tether rope' first ... we feel certain that you’ll be surprised at how comfortable and safe you’ll feel