Fun facts about hot air balloons

If you’ve ever wanted a complete guide to hot air ballooning- look no further than this! From a distance, hot air balloons appear to be merely a colourful speck in the sky. But hot air balloons are so much more than the simplicity they infer. In reality, hot air balloons possess a rich history behind their construction. They involve complex thermodynamic control systems. Hundreds of years of development have come together to create an incredible kind of sky-bound adventure, just for your enjoyment.

  • Animals were the first hot air balloon passengers! Cute, right? The Montgolfiers sent up a sheep, a duck, and a rooster, while the king and queen (Marie Antoinette) of France watched. 130,000 other people watched the historic flight over Versailles, and thankfully, the animals landed safely!
  • The bigger the size, the steeper the price! Private, or small balloons cost up to $ 20,000 USD, not including the costs of fuel, pilot and maintenance.
  • Larger balloons tend to increase exponentially- a balloon that can hold four doubles in price.
  • The highest a hot air balloon has ever flown hot is 21,000 kilometres. That’s almost twice the cruising altitude of a commercial aeroplane. At those heights, the people in the basket need to wear oxygen masks.
  • One of the biggest events for hot air ballooners worldwide happens in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA at the International Hot Air Balloon Festival.
  • One of the coolest things about hot air balloon festivals is seeing the creations people come up with for their own personal hot air balloons! From balloons looking like Darth Vader to cute puppy dogs, to a pair of Levi’s, they’re all massive displays of creativity!
  • On January 17, 1991, entrepreneur Richard Branson and Swedish engineer Per Lindstrand lifted off from Japan in a hot air balloon. They sailed over 4,700 miles in 46 hours. But the amazing flight ended with an air rescue after they landed on the icy Lake Yukon in Canada.
  • Enjoy Best hot air balloon Vilnius flight in Vilnius.
  • The photo below is one of the world’s largest hot air balloon baskets! This double-decker was enjoyed back in the 1970s.

A hot air balloon is what is known as a lighter-than-air aircraft. These kinds of aircraft are able to rise into the sky by using a gas such as propane or another gas to hear air (and render it lighter), or lighter-than-air gases like Helium or Hydrogen (these are usually not used for hot air balloon passenger flights but more for research balloons). 

The envelope is usually made out of heat-resistant nylon or polyester. Hot air balloon envelopes are often over 24 meters tall when filled. Prior to flight the envelope is laid out on the ground and is partially filled with cold air. At this point, the burners are attached below and heat begins to increase the air temperature.

When air is heated, it rises into the envelope and creates buoyancy. This is because hot air has a lower density than that of the colder air in the atmosphere around it. Other lighter-than-air aircraft that work in this same way include the free balloons, moored balloons, and airships. 

Hot air balloons are safe for people of all ages, including dogs. The average commercial hot air balloon carries around eight people, pilot included. Other private, smaller balloons can carry up to two passengers.

The largest balloons can carry up to thirty people! If you’ve ever seen (or participated in) one of those photos of groups dining in the sky- they’re being held up by a pretty big balloon! The world’s largest passenger hot air balloon, the Cameron Z-750, can carry thirty-two passengers.

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