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Ballooning Q&A

How do you steer a balloon?

Balloons simply float with the wind. The pilot can control the balloon's altitude to find a wind going in the desired direction, but you cannot fly upwind or crosswind. Preflight planning insures the pilot knows which way the balloon will be traveling, and the pilot makes sure there are plenty of suitable landing sites downwind.

How long does it take to inflate and deflate the balloon?

A good ground crew can inflate and launch a balloon in fifteen minutes or less. It takes about the same amount of time to deflate and pack up the balloon after the flight.

Why don't balloons fly in the middle of the day?

Balloons fly early in the morning, right after sunrise and late in the day, right before sunset. This is when the wind is calmest since the sun is low in the sky.

Why is the angle of the sun important?

The sun is the source of wind, because it heats the earth unevenly. Sunlight falls directly on the equator, for example. The North Pole receives weaker, slanted rays of sunlight. Clouds may keep one area cool while another heats up. Water and land heat up at different rates. Hot air is lighter than cool air, so it rises. As hot air rises, cool air slides in to replace it. The result: wind. It isn't safe to fly during the daytime when different pockets of air are rising and falling.

Can balloons fly at night?

Yes, although balloonists seldom do because of decreased visibility and the requirement for instruments and lights. Most balloons are certified for day flying only.

How do you get back to where you started?

A chase crew follows along in a van or truck. The chase crew is in radio contact with the pilot, so they can be there when the balloon lands (or soon afterwards).

How much do balloons cost?

About the same as a car or boat. The most popular sport size balloons cost from $18,000 to $25,000 or more. Support equipment (radios, fan, extra tanks, tools, repair kit, etc.) adds from $2,000 to $ 5,000 more. You can also buy used balloons.

How many hot air balloons are there?

There are over 3,500 balloons and 4,000 licensed pilots in the U.S. There are another 1000 or so balloons in other countries.

What are envelopes made of?

Rip-stop nylon is the most common material. Polyester and other fabrics are sometimes used. The lower portions around the opening are usually made from a fire resistant material like Nomex, similar to what race car drivers and firemen wear.

What fuel do hot air balloons use, and where is it carried?

Propane is used for fuel. It is carried in aluminum or stainless steel tanks that range from 10 to 20 gallons in size. Average fuel consumption is about 15 gallons an hour.

How long do balloons last?

Depending on the care it is given, a balloon envelope may last 500 or more flying hours. Considering that most sport pilots fly from 35-75 hours a year, balloons do last a long time.

What if you have to go to the bathroom?

Pre-planning is the key! Since flights average about an hour or so, pre-planning pays off in this regard. There are no bathrooms aboard the balloon.

What is a balloon basket made of?

Woven wicker is used because it is lightweight, flexible and easily repaired. It also looks nice!

What happens if a bird flies into a balloon?

It would likely bounce off! The envelope fabric is much tougher than it might appear. It is possible to fly a balloon with a hole large enough for a man to go through as long as the hole is not at the top of the envelope.

Are all hot air balloons alike?

All hot air balloons consist of a burner system, a basket and an envelope. The differences are in the shape and size of the envelope, the deflation system, the basket shape and design and the configuration, design, and number of burners.

What are the ropes for?

The crown line on top of the balloon is used to stabilize the balloon during inflation. "Tether lines" are used to tie the balloon down for display purposes. A "drop line" is sometimes released by the pilot just before landing so the ground crew can pull the balloon to a desired location.

Do you need a license to fly a balloon?

Yes. A Balloon Pilot Certificate is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in the USA. You must pass an FAA written exam, obtain a prescribed number of hours of instruction, make a solo flight, a flight to a specific altitude and pass a flight test. You don't have to be able to fly an airplane since it is a completely different type of aircraft, although many balloon pilots also fly other types of aircraft like airplanes and helicopters.

How old do you have to be to fly a balloon?

To obtain a Private Pilot Certificate in the USA you must be 16 years old. And would you believe that there are balloonists flying in their 80's!

Can balloons fly over mountains?

Yes. However, there are some special problems: If you come down in an area where there are no roads it is difficult to get the balloon out Also, mountain winds are sometimes very turbulent

Pilot- Greg

(503) 510-7835

I’ll Fly Away Balloon Adventures

                                                                     Serving Central and Western Oregon