FAQ’s | How does the Hot Air Balloon stay in the air over the Kansas City area?
Hot air balloons may seem to defy the laws of nature, but they actually work in a rather simple way.
As you probably already know, hot air rises. So, by heating the air inside the hot air balloon (with a burner), the trapped air becomes lighter than the cooler air outside. And the hot air balloon rises.
Although this is a natural process, pilots have a great deal of control. A lot like a 3-dimensional sail boat, the hot air balloon pilot can check the altitude with various instruments, and a skilled pilot can usually control the balloon’s decent within centimeters.
Captain Ye Haw is an experienced pilot knows how to use the winds to steer the hot air balloon. Wind directions change at varying altitudes, and he will direct the balloon up or down to catch the stream that is going in the desired direction.
Many people don’t realize that in hot air balloon rides, when the pilot picks his site to take off from… he or she has already picked the landing site!
WHAT ARE BALLOONS MADE OF?
The hot air balloon envelope (colorful part) made of reinforced nylon fabric. It is very light (1.3 ounces per square yard) but very strong (125 pounds per square inch). The envelope, treated with a polyurethane coating to make it more airtight and to help the fabric withstand the ultraviolet rays of the sun and internal heat loss. The pilot and passengers ride in a gondola (or basket) made of woven wicker, which is both strong and flexible. The gondola, will be connected to the envelope by stainless steel suspension cables. The hot air balloon envelope and basket once connected together with 8 locking hot air balloon carabiners, the hot air balloon will become one unit.
HOW MUCH DOES A BALLOON COST?
The average balloon costs for a small 2 passenger balloon is about $22,000. For balloons to carry pilot plus 4 passages the average cost is 35,000 to over $45,000. This price includes the envelope, gondola, fuel tanks, and instruments, but does not include any ground support equipment or chase vehicle. It takes a lot to make your memory of a lifetime in a hot air balloon possible.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO FLY?
Hot air ballooning is a year-round sport. Weather conditions for ballooning are best just after sunrise and 2-3 hours before sunset. Light, ideal winds (0-8 mph) often occur during these times. During the day, when the sun is high, thermals (large bubbles of hot air that rise from the sun-heated earth) make ballooning hazardous. Please avoid the urge to make your own flight weather calls. That’s why the pilot is there. Your commercial rated hot air balloon pilot will make the pre-flight decision if it’s safe to fly or not.
CAN ANYONE PILOT A BALLOON?
Balloon pilots must have a LTA pilot’s license especially for hot air balloons. This hot air balloon license, issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and will be earned after taking hours of instruction with a balloon pilot instructor, passing a FAA written test, making a solo flight, and passing a flight test with a FAA examiner. Currently there are more than 5,000 balloons in the United States. There are three types of LTA pilots license. The student LTA hot air balloon license, the private LTA pilots license, and finally the commercial LTA pilots license. So, it is by far a commitment for a commercial pilot to get his or her hot air balloon license.
HOW MUCH DO BALLOON SYSTEMS WEIGH?
A typical hot air balloon system – balloon envelope, balloon gondola, fuel tanks, and 40 gallons of fuel – will weigh about 600 pounds, deflated on the ground. In the air, the complete system, including the weight of the air inside the envelope, will weigh about 2 ½ tons.
HOW ARE BALLOONS INFLATED?
The balloon envelope, will be spread out on the ground and the gondola laid on its side and attached to the envelope cables. A portable (gasoline powered) fan pushes ambient air into the envelope. When the envelope is about 80% inflated with outside (ambient) air, a propane burner will be ignited and fired until the air inside of the hot air balloon is heated enough for the balloon to rise to an upright position. With a small amount of extra heat, the balloon becomes buoyant. Typically, the inflation takes about 15 minutes from removing the hot air balloon from the balloon trailer to the beginning of the flight.
WHY IS THERE A BIG HOLE AT THE TOP OF OUR BALLOON?
Do not worry! There is a valve that the pilot can open and close. The hot air balloon vent is used to allow hot air to escape, allowing the balloon to descend. The valve is also used after the flight has ended, so all the air can be removed and the balloon packed up.
DO HOT AIR BALLOON RIDERS GET MOTION SICKNESS?
Not at all! A balloon ride is extremely stable with very little feeling of motion. Although we’ve never had any passengers comment on any motion sickness or queasiness. If it were to happen I’d suggest looking out at the horizon and not straight down.
We hope this answer some of your questions.
If you have any more not covered please give us a call and our staff will be more than happy to answer all your questions.
Remember that you have a friend in the ballooning business!