Hot air Balloons are a mysterious wonder that many people don’t know much about. You may be thinking of going on a balloon ride, have been given a voucher for a special occasion or seen the balloons floating peacefully by on a sunny day and it might have you thinking, how does it work? Well it all starts with inflation and here we will explain the process.
Types of hot air balloon
There are two types of balloon, Helium and hot air. Here we are looking at how a hot air balloon is inflated and how it works as this is the type of balloon you can book for a ride. The size of the balloon can vary dramatically and it is measured in cubic square feet. For passenger balloons this can range from around 90,000 to 400,000! Here at Bailey Balloons we have many different size balloons that we can use for different sized groups. Our 105,000’s will take 2 -3 passengers for an exclusive flight and can also be used for tethering at special events. The 140,000 and 210,000 can be used for exclusive groups of 4 – 10 people and then we have a few more for larger groups 275,000, 300,000, 315,000 and 375,000! The larger balloons will take the most passengers between 12 – 16 people – the baskets are very big and are divided into compartments which makes them extremely sturdy.
The basket and balloon envelope are transported on trailers towed by land rovers, when we arrive for a flight, we gather all the passengers around for a quick safety talk and to explain how they will get involved with the inflation. The Pilot and chief crew will ask a few people to do specific tasks during the inflation and they will be given a separate talk. The balloon envelope is then pulled off the trailer and the group of passengers are asked to spread out around it on each side, we then start to pull out the envelope until it is laid flat on the ground. The envelope is attached to the basket which is laid on its side and is in turn attached to one of the land rovers to keep it on the ground during inflation.
Two people are asked to stand either side of the mouth of the balloon and one or two people will be asked to stand at the other to hold the crown line which will keep the top of the balloon down near the ground during inflation. Two fans are then used to start filling the balloon with cold air while the two people hold the mouth open. While this is going on the pilot will be preparing the burners and doing some final safety and weather checks. Once there is enough cold air in the balloon, the pilot will start to heat it with the burners. When the air inside the balloon starts to heat up, the balloon will start to rise up and this is where it is really important that the crown line is held firm so that it doesn’t float off before the passengers can get in!
Once the pilot has the balloon in an upright position, he will call for everyone to get in and take their landing positions in the basket. This is usually crouching whilst holding rope handles or in some bigger baskets it will be a sitting position on bench seats while holding the rope handles. Once everyone is in and has practised the landing positions, the pilot will use the burners to increase the temperature of the air in the envelope and when suitable will pull the quick release which detaches the balloon from the land rover and then the balloon will drift peacefully up into the blue sky!
So now you know how a balloon is inflated, why not book your own ride to experience it first hand, you can also read our blogs on how a balloon works, how to steer a balloon and top tips for first time balloonists.