How to Fly a Hot Air Balloon

in Aviaton

You are not content with being the passenger for hot air balloon rides, you want to pilot the thing! Being a hot air balloon pilot takes a good amount of skill and expertise. Yes, the control systems on these flying machines are not that complex, but mistakes in the air could turn your romantic journey into the sunrise, into a flaming ball of death towards the solid ground - this is definitely not fun.

Basically, to lift the balloon the pilot moves a control that opens up a propane valve. Much like the settings on a gas grill, the pilot increases the size of the flame to heat the air rapidly and increase the lift speed. The more you open the valve, the more gas you let through, the faster you go. Many hot air balloons also have a control that opens a second propane valve. This sends propane through a hose that avoids the heating coils which in turn allows the pilot to burn the propane in liquid form, instead of gas. The liquid propane provides a weaker flame, but is much quieter than burning the gas. Pilots will often use this control over areas that are sensitive to sound, like when viewing wildlife or over livestock on farms.

Once you have had your fill for the day, or simply want to release some of the heat, you will need to get accustomed to the cord used to open the parachute valve at the top of the balloon. When you pull the cord, hot air will escape and cause the balloon to descend slowly. If the pilot kept it open too long, the balloon could sink, resulting in a possible disaster.

These are essentially the only controls needed to get the hot air balloon into the air and back onto the ground. The real skill comes in being able to read the direction of the wind at different altitudes. There is no steering wheel available, so the pilot needs to catch drafts to steer the balloon in a certain direction. The speed and direction of the wind changes at different altitudes, so they will use this to get the balloon moving in the right position. Despite this, even the most experience pilots won't have complete control over the balloon, and you will never be able to predict the exact route - but that is what makes these trips so unique and exciting.

Now we would never recommend that you go out there and try this yourself. If flying a hot air balloon is your real passion, then ensure that you go through the proper training channels before taking to the skies. Alternatively, you can leave the flying to the pros and simply enjoy a glass of bubbly while watching the sun peek over the horizon.

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Jason Acar has 15 articles online

Jason Acar is a Professional freelance SEO Copywriter and writes on various topics. One of the topics he has a keen interest in is hot air ballooning and hot air balloon rides, especially how it all works. In his article he explains how to best fly a hot air balloon.

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How to Fly a Hot Air Balloon

This article was published on 2011/03/15