Bath is a great place to take a hot air balloon flight, with magnificent views over the city and the surrounding countryside. Hot air balloons use tried and tested technology, but the technology is being updated.
The first hot air balloon flight that carried humans was in 1783. Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier rose up in a tethered hot air balloon. The technology behind this balloon is more or less the same as it is today; a large canopy filled with hot air and a basket or gondola below to carry the pilot and passengers. The first flights did not have an onboard heat source, however, as is common today.
Most forms of transport, such as cars and aeroplanes, have seen dramatic changes in technology. Electric driverless cars and rocket powered planes that take an hour between London and New York could be commonplace in the future. Hot air balloon technology has remained more or less the same as those early flights, but there have been some recent developments that have improved hot air balloon technology.
The world’s first certified hot air balloon powered by the sun flew on August 6, 2015 in Bristol. Clive Bailey & Bailey Balloons Pilot Pete Dalby were instrumental in making this happen. The balloon was built by Cameron Balloons and operated by Bailey Balloons alongside Pete Dalby, the canopy is manufactured from fabric that absorbs the sun’s rays and this helps heat the air inside the balloon. The balloon still has a conventional burner, which makes it a hybrid using a combination of hot air burner and the sun.
The balloon demonstrated that solar power can be used in a hot air balloon, but it may be some time off before a fully solar powered hot air balloon takes off from Bath.
A typical hour hot air balloon flight over Bath can use 100 litres of gas. The Spanish balloon maker, Ultramagic Balloons, has developed a special fabric that is silver on the outside with an inner lightweight insulating layer. The makers of the balloon claim that this means that a flight uses 50% less gas.
This eco design still uses the same hot air technology of normal balloons but is eco-friendlier in terms of fuel consumption.
A hot air balloon over Bath can rise to a few thousand feet. For this flight, an open basket is fine, but if you wanted to go a lot higher, a specialised enclosed cabin is required. World View Enterprises is planning to take passengers to the edge of space in a hot air balloon that carries a pressurised cabin beneath it from where passengers will be able to see the curvature of the Earth.
A hot air balloon flight over Bath takes about an hour. Presently, this is done on a standard hot air balloon, but in the future, solar powered, eco balloons and pressurised cabins could mean much longer and higher flights where passengers can see both Bath and the whole of the British Isles.
To experience your own balloon flight over Bath, buy a voucher online or call us today 01275 375300