Hot air balloon
Overview
 
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight
Flight
Flight is the process by which an object moves either through an atmosphere or beyond it by generating lift or propulsive thrust, or aerostatically using buoyancy, or by simple ballistic movement....

 technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

. On November 21, 1783, in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes
François Laurent d'Arlandes
François Laurent le Vieux d'Arlandes was a French marquis, soldier and a pioneer of hot air ballooning. He and Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon....

 in a hot air balloon created on December 14, 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers
Montgolfier brothers
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the montgolfière-style hot air balloon, globe aérostatique. The brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent, carrying Étienne into the sky...

. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind
Wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

 are known as airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

s or, more specifically, thermal airship
Thermal airship
A thermal airship is an airship that generates its lift via the difference in density due to a temperature differential between the gas inside its envelope and the ambient air. Currently all thermal airships use hot air, as used in a hot air balloon, as their lifting gas...

s.

A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope
Aerostat
An aerostat is a craft that remains aloft primarily through the use of buoyant lighter than air gases, which impart lift to a vehicle with nearly the same overall density as air. Aerostats include free balloons, airships, and moored balloons...

 that is capable of containing heated air.
Encyclopedia
The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight
Flight
Flight is the process by which an object moves either through an atmosphere or beyond it by generating lift or propulsive thrust, or aerostatically using buoyancy, or by simple ballistic movement....

 technology. It is in a class of aircraft known as balloon aircraft
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

. On November 21, 1783, in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes
François Laurent d'Arlandes
François Laurent le Vieux d'Arlandes was a French marquis, soldier and a pioneer of hot air ballooning. He and Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon....

 in a hot air balloon created on December 14, 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers
Montgolfier brothers
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the montgolfière-style hot air balloon, globe aérostatique. The brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent, carrying Étienne into the sky...

. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than just being pushed along by the wind
Wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

 are known as airship
Airship
An airship or dirigible is a type of aerostat or "lighter-than-air aircraft" that can be steered and propelled through the air using rudders and propellers or other thrust mechanisms...

s or, more specifically, thermal airship
Thermal airship
A thermal airship is an airship that generates its lift via the difference in density due to a temperature differential between the gas inside its envelope and the ambient air. Currently all thermal airships use hot air, as used in a hot air balloon, as their lifting gas...

s.

A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope
Aerostat
An aerostat is a craft that remains aloft primarily through the use of buoyant lighter than air gases, which impart lift to a vehicle with nearly the same overall density as air. Aerostats include free balloons, airships, and moored balloons...

 that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket
Wicker
Wicker is hard woven fiber formed into a rigid material, usually used for baskets or furniture. Wicker is often made of material of plant origin, but plastic fibers are also used....

 (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule), which carries passengers and (usually) a source of heat, in most cases an open flame. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density
Ideal gas law
The ideal gas law is the equation of state of a hypothetical ideal gas. It is a good approximation to the behavior of many gases under many conditions, although it has several limitations. It was first stated by Émile Clapeyron in 1834 as a combination of Boyle's law and Charles's law...

 than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. As with all aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

, hot air balloons cannot fly beyond the atmosphere
Atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

. Unlike gas balloon
Gas balloon
A gas balloon is any balloon that stays aloft due to being filled with a gas less dense than air or lighter than air . A gas balloon may also be called a Charlière for its inventor, the Frenchman Jacques Charles. Today, familiar gas balloons include large blimps and small rubber party balloons...

s, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air. In today's sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon
Nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

 fabric and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex
Nomex
Nomex is a registered trademark for flame resistant meta-aramid material developed in the early 1960s by DuPont and first marketed in 1967.- Properties:...

. Beginning in the mid-1970s, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as hot dogs, rocket ships, and the shapes of commercial products, though the traditional shape remains popular for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.

The term hot air balloon is occasionally used inaccurately to denote any balloon large enough to carry people, including gas balloon
Gas balloon
A gas balloon is any balloon that stays aloft due to being filled with a gas less dense than air or lighter than air . A gas balloon may also be called a Charlière for its inventor, the Frenchman Jacques Charles. Today, familiar gas balloons include large blimps and small rubber party balloons...

s.

History


Premodern and unmanned balloons

Unmanned hot air balloons are popular in Chinese history. Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang
Zhuge Liang was a chancellor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. He is often recognised as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era....

 of the Shu Han
Shu Han
Shu Han was one of the three states competing for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period, after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The state was based on areas around Sichuan, which was then known as Shu...

 kingdom, in the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 era (220–80 AD) used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns (孔明灯). There is also some speculation, from a demonstration led by British modern hot air balloonist Julian Nott
Julian Nott (balloonist)
Julian Nott is a British balloonist who now lives in Santa Barbara, CA, USA. He is known for his achievements in record-setting exploits. Nott has set 79 World ballooning Records and 96 British aviation records. He is currently actively involved in developing balloons for flights at Solar System...

 in the late 1970s and again in 2003, that hot air balloons could have been used by people of the Nazca culture
Nazca culture
The Nazca culture was the archaeological culture that flourished from 100 to 800 CE beside the dry southern coast of Peru in the river valleys of the Rio Grande de Nazca drainage and the Ica Valley...

 of Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 some 1500 to 2000 years ago, as a tool for designing the famous Nazca ground figures and lines
Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid plateau stretches more than between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana about 400 km south of Lima...

. The first documented balloon flight in Europe was demonstrated by Bartolomeu de Gusmão
Bartolomeu de Gusmão
Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão , was a priest and naturalist born in the then Portuguese colony of Brazil, noted for his early work on lighter-than-air airship design....

. On August 8, 1709, in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, he managed to lift a balloon full of hot air about 4.5 meters in front of King John V and the Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 court.

First manned flight

The first clearly recorded instance of a balloon carrying passengers used hot air to generate buoyancy
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

 and was built by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier
Montgolfier brothers
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the montgolfière-style hot air balloon, globe aérostatique. The brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent, carrying Étienne into the sky...

 in Annonay
Annonay
Annonay is a commune in the north of the Ardèche department in the Rhône-Alpes region in southern France. It is the most populous commune in the Ardèche department, although it is not the capital, which resides in the smaller town of Privas.-Geography:...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first tethered balloon flight with humans on board took place on October 15, 1783. It is fitting that Etienne Montgolfier was the first human to lift off the earth, making at least one tethered flight from the yard of the Reveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. It was most likely on October 15, 1783. A little while later on that same day, Pilatre de Rozier became the second to ascend into the air, to an altitude of 80 feet, which was the length of the tether. The first free flight with human passengers took place on November 21, 1783. King Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots
Aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

, but de Rozier, along with Marquis François d'Arlandes
François Laurent d'Arlandes
François Laurent le Vieux d'Arlandes was a French marquis, soldier and a pioneer of hot air ballooning. He and Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier made the first manned free balloon flight on 21 November 1783, in a Montgolfier balloon....

, successfully petitioned for the honor.
The first military use
History of Military Ballooning
Balloons were the first mechanisms used in air warfare. Their role was strictly recognized for reconnaissance purposes. They provided humans with the first available method of elevating themselves well over the battlefield to obtain the proverbial "birds-eye view." They were an early instrument of...

 of a hot air balloon happened during the battle of Fleurus
Battle of Fleurus (1794)
In the Battle of Fleurus on 26 June 1794, the army of the First French Republic under General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan faced the Coalition Army commanded by Prince Josias of Coburg in the most decisive battle of the Flanders Campaign in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary Wars...

 (1794) where the French used the balloon l'Entreprenant as an observation post.

Today

Modern hot air balloons, with an onboard heat source, were pioneered by Ed Yost
Ed Yost
Paul Edward Yost was the American inventor of the modern hot air balloon and is referred to as the "Father of the Modern Day Hot-Air Balloon." He worked for a high altitude research division of General Mills when he helped establish Raven Industries in 1956.-Inventor:Born on a farm 7 miles...

, beginning in the 1950s; his work resulted in his first successful flight, on October 22, 1960. The first modern-day hot air balloon to be built in the United Kingdom (UK) was the Bristol Belle
Bristol Belle
The Bristol Belle was the name given to the first modern hot air balloon in Britain.. The balloon was created from an idea developed by members of the Bristol , UK Gliding Club. Following developments by Ed Yost in the United States, members of the Bristol Gliding Club decided to create their own...

 in 1967. Today, hot air balloons are used primarily for recreation.

Hot air balloons are able to fly to extremely high altitudes. On November 26, 2005, Vijaypat Singhania
Vijaypat Singhania
Vijaypat Singhania is the chairman emeritus of the Raymond Group of clothing and textiles. and a former Sheriff of Mumbai, from 19 December 2005 to 18 December 2006....

 set the world altitude record for highest hot air balloon flight, reaching 21027 m (68,986.2 ft). He took off from downtown Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and landed 240 km (149.1 mi) south in Panchale. The previous record of 19811 m (64,996.7 ft) had been set by Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand is a Swedish aeronautical engineer, pilot, adventurer and entrepreneur. He is particularly known for his series of record-breaking trans-oceanic hot air balloon flights and, later, attempts to be the first to fly a Rozière balloon around the Earth - all with British entrepreneur,...

 on June 6, 1988 in Plano, Texas
Plano, Texas
Plano is a city in the state of Texas, located mostly within Collin County. The city's population was 259,841 at the 2010 census, making it the ninth-largest city in Texas and the 71st most populous city in the United States. Plano is located within the metropolitan area commonly referred to as...

. As with all unpressurized aircraft, oxygen is needed for all crew
Crew
A crew is a body or a class of people who work at a common activity, generally in a structured or hierarchical organization. A location in which a crew works is called a crewyard or a workyard...

 and passenger
Passenger
A passenger is a term broadly used to describe any person who travels in a vehicle, but bears little or no responsibility for the tasks required for that vehicle to arrive at its destination....

s on any flight that exceeds an altitude of about 15000 ft (4,572 m).
On January 15, 1991, the Virgin Pacific Flyer balloon completed the longest flight in a hot air balloon when Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand
Per Lindstrand is a Swedish aeronautical engineer, pilot, adventurer and entrepreneur. He is particularly known for his series of record-breaking trans-oceanic hot air balloon flights and, later, attempts to be the first to fly a Rozière balloon around the Earth - all with British entrepreneur,...

 (born in Sweden, but resident in the UK) and Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies....

 of the UK flew 7671.91 km (4,767.1 mi) from Japan to Northern Canada. With a volume of 74 thousand cubic meters (2.6 million cubic feet), the balloon envelope was the largest ever built for a hot air craft. Designed to fly in the trans-oceanic jet stream
Jet stream
Jet streams are fast flowing, narrow air currents found in the atmospheres of some planets, including Earth. The main jet streams are located near the tropopause, the transition between the troposphere and the stratosphere . The major jet streams on Earth are westerly winds...

s, the Pacific Flyer recorded the highest ground speed for a manned balloon at 245 mph (109.5 m/s). The longest duration record was set by Swiss psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard, Auguste Piccard's grandson, and Briton Brian Jones, Flying in the Breitling Orbiter 3. It was the first nonstop trip around the world by balloon. The balloon left Château-d'Oex, Switzerland, on March 1, 1999, and landed at 1:02 a.m. on March 21 in the Egyptian desert 300 miles (482 kilometers) south of Cairo. The two men broke distance, endurance, and time records, traveling 19 days, 21 hours, and 55 minutes. Steve Fosset broke the record for shortest time around the world on 3 July 2002. The new record is 320 h 33 min.

Construction

A hot air balloon for manned flight uses a single-layered, fabric gas bag (lifting "envelope"), with an opening at the bottom called the mouth or throat. Attached to the envelope is a basket, or gondola, for carrying the passengers. Mounted above the basket and centered in the mouth is the "burner," which injects a flame into the envelope, heating the air within. The heater or burner is fueled by propane
Propane
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula , normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central...

, a liquefied gas stored in pressure vessels, similar to high pressure forklift
Forklift truck
A forklift is a powered industrial truck used to lift and transport materials. The modern forklift was developed in the 1920s by various companies including the transmission manufacturing company Clark and the hoist company Yale & Towne Manufacturing...

 cylinders
Gas cylinder
A gas cylinder is a pressure vessel used to store gases at above atmospheric pressure. High pressure gas cylinders are also called bottles. Although they are sometimes colloquially called "tanks", this is technically incorrect, as a tank is a vessel used to store liquids at ambient pressure and...

.

Envelope

Modern hot air balloons are usually made of light-weight and strong synthetic fabrics such as ripstop nylon, or dacron
Polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate , commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination...

 (a polyester
Polyester
Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate...

).

During the manufacturing process, the material is cut into panels and sewn together, along with structural load tapes
Webbing
Webbing is a strong fabric woven as a flat strip or tube of varying width and fibres often used in place of rope. The name webbing comes from the meshed material frequently used in its construction, which resembles a web...

 that carry the weight of the gondola or basket. The individual sections, which run from the throat to the crown (top) of the envelope, are called gores
Gore (segment)
A gore is a segment of a three-dimensional shape fabricated from a two-dimensional material. The term was originally used to describe triangular shapes, but is now extended to any shape that can be used to create the third dimension.-Examples:...

 or gore sections. Envelopes can have as few as 4 gores or as many as 24 or more.

Envelopes often have a crown ring at their very top. This is a hoop of smooth metal, usually aluminium and approximately 1 ft (0.3048 m) in diameter that vertical load tapes attach to.

Seams

The most common technique for sewing panels together is called the French felled
Glossary of textile terminology
A glossary of Textile Terminology frequently useda.k.a. ' Textiles for Dummies '-Glossary:...

, French fell, or double lap seam. The two pieces of fabric are folded over on each other at their common edge, possibly with a load tape as well, and sewn together with two rows of parallel stitching. Other methods include a flat lap seam, in which the two pieces of fabric are held together simply with two rows of parallel stitching, and a zigzag, where parallel zigzag stitching holds a double lap of fabric.

Coatings

The fabric (or at least part of it, the top 1/3 for example) may be coated with a sealer, such as silicone
Silicone
Silicones are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications , cookware, and insulation....

 or polyurethane
Polyurethane
A polyurethane is any polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate links. Polyurethane polymers are formed through step-growth polymerization, by reacting a monomer with another monomer in the presence of a catalyst.Polyurethanes are...

, to make it impermeable to air. It is often the degradation of this coating and the corresponding loss of impermeability that ends the effective life of an envelope, not weakening of the fabric itself. Heat, moisture, and mechanical wear-and-tear during set up and pack up are the primary causes of degradation. Once an envelope becomes too porous
Porosity
Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0–1, or as a percentage between 0–100%...

 to fly, it may be retired and used as a 'rag bag': cold inflated and opened for children to run through. Products for recoating the fabric are becoming commercially available.

Sizes

A range of envelope sizes is available. The smallest, one-person, basket-less balloons (called "Hoppers
Hopper balloon
A hopper balloon is a small, one-person hot air balloon. Unlike a conventional hot air balloon where people ride inside a basket, there is no basket on a hopper balloon. Instead, the hopper pilot usually sits on a seat or wears a harness similar to a parachute harness. Hoppers are typically flown...

" or "Cloudhoppers") have as little as 21,000 ft³ (595 m³) of envelope volume (for a perfect sphere this would mean a radius of around 5.22 m (17.1 ft). At the other end of the scale are the balloons used by large commercial sightseeing operations that carry well over two dozen people and have envelope volumes of up to 600000 cu ft (16,990.1 m³). However, most balloons are roughly 100000 cu ft (2,831.7 m³) and carry 3 to 5 people.

Vents

The top of the balloon usually has a vent of some sort. This enables the pilot to release hot air to slow an ascent, start a descent, or increase the rate of descent, usually for landing. Some hot air balloons have turning vents, which are side vents that, when opened, cause the balloon to rotate. Such vents are particularly useful for balloons with rectangular baskets, to facilitate aligning the wider side of the basket for landing.

The most common type of top vent is a disk-shaped flap of fabric called a parachute vent, invented by Tracy Barnes. The fabric is connected around its edge to a set of "vent lines" that converge in the center. (The arrangement of fabric and lines roughly resembles a parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

 -- thus the name.) These "vent lines" are themselves connected to a control line that runs to the basket. A parachute vent is opened by pulling on the control line. Once the control line is released, the pressure of the remaining hot air pushes the vent fabric back into place. A parachute vent can be opened briefly while in flight to initiate a rapid descent. (Slower descents are initiated by allowing the air in the balloon to cool naturally.) The vent is pulled completely open to collapse the balloon after landing.

An older, and today less commonly used, style of top vent is called a "Velcro
Velcro
Velcro is the brand name of the first commercially marketed fabric hook-and-loop fastener, invented in 1948 by the Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral...

-style" vent. This too is a disk of fabric at the top of the balloon. However, rather than having a set of "vent lines" that can repeatedly open and close the vent, the vent is secured by "hook and loop" fasteners (such as Velcro) and is only opened at the end of the flight. Balloons equipped with a Velcro-style vent typically have a second "maneuvering vent" built into the side (as opposed to the top) of the balloon. Another common type of top design is the "Smart Vent," which, rather than lowering a fabric disc into the envelope as in the "parachute" type, gathers the fabric together in the center of the opening. This system can theoretically be used for in-flight maneuvering, but is more commonly used only as a rapid-deflation device for use after landing, of particular value in high winds. Other designs, such as the "pop top" and "MultiVent" systems, have also attempted to address the need for rapid deflation on landing, but the parachute top remains popular as an elegant, all-around maneuvering and deflation system.

Shape

Besides special shapes, possibly for marketing purposes, there are several variations on the traditional "inverted tear drop" shape. The simplest, often used by home builders, is a hemisphere
Sphere
A sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball. Like a circle in two dimensions, a perfect sphere is completely symmetrical around its center, with all points on the surface lying the same distance r from the center point...

 on top of a truncated cone
Cone (geometry)
A cone is an n-dimensional geometric shape that tapers smoothly from a base to a point called the apex or vertex. Formally, it is the solid figure formed by the locus of all straight line segments that join the apex to the base...

. More-sophisticated designs attempt to minimize the circumferential stress
Stress (physics)
In continuum mechanics, stress is a measure of the internal forces acting within a deformable body. Quantitatively, it is a measure of the average force per unit area of a surface within the body on which internal forces act. These internal forces are a reaction to external forces applied on the body...

 on the fabric, with different degrees of success depending on whether they take fabric weight and varying air density into account. This shape may be referred to as "natural". Finally, some specialized balloons are designed to minimize aerodynamic drag (in the vertical direction) to improve flight performance in competitions.

Basket

Baskets are commonly made of woven
Basket weaving
Basket weaving is the process of weaving unspun vegetable fibres into a basket or other similar form. People and artists who weave baskets are called basketmakers and basket weavers.Basketry is made from a variety of fibrous or pliable materials•anything that will bend and form a shape...

 wicker
Wicker
Wicker is hard woven fiber formed into a rigid material, usually used for baskets or furniture. Wicker is often made of material of plant origin, but plastic fibers are also used....

 or rattan
Rattan
Rattan is the name for the roughly 600 species of palms in the tribe Calameae, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia.- Structure :...

. These materials have proven to be sufficiently light, strong, and durable for balloon flight. Such baskets are usually rectangular or triangular in shape. They vary in size from just big enough for two people to large enough to carry thirty. Larger baskets often have internal partitions for structural bracing and to compartmentalize the passengers. Small holes may be woven into the side of the basket to act as foot holds for passengers climbing in or out.

Baskets may also be made of aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

, especially a collapsible aluminium frame with a fabric skin, to reduce weight or increase portability. These may be used by pilots without a ground crew or who are attempting to set altitude, duration, or distance records. Other specialty baskets include the fully enclosed gondolas used for around-the-world attempts, and baskets that consist of little more than a seat for the pilot and perhaps one passenger.

Burner

The burner unit gasifies liquid propane
Propane
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula , normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central...

, mixes it with air, ignites the mixture, and directs the flame and exhaust into the mouth of the envelope. Burners vary in power output; each will generally produce 2 to 3 MW of heat (7 to 10 million BTUs
British thermal unit
The British thermal unit is a traditional unit of energy equal to about 1055 joules. It is approximately the amount of energy needed to heat of water, which is exactly one tenth of a UK gallon or about 0.1198 US gallons, from 39°F to 40°F...

 per hour), with double, triple, or quadruple burner configurations installed where more power is needed. The pilot actuates a burner by opening a propane valve, called a blast valve. The valve may be spring-loaded so that it closes automatically, or it may stay open until closed by the pilot. The burner has a pilot light
Pilot light
thumb|right|Merker gas fired water heater from the 1930's, with pilot light clearly visible through the aperture in the front cover. The large opening allowed for the manual lighting of the pilot light by a lit match or taper...

 to ignite the propane and air mixture. The pilot light may be lit by the pilot with an external device, such as a flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

 striker or a lighter
Lighter
A lighter is a portable device used to generate a flame. It consists of a metal or plastic container filled with a flammable fluid or pressurized liquid gas, a means of ignition, and some provision for extinguishing the flame.- History :...

, or with a built-in piezo electric
Piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure...

 spark.

Where more than one burner is present, the pilot can use one or more at a time depending on the desired heat output. Each burner is characterized by a metal coil of propane tubing the flame shoots through to preheat the incoming liquid propane. The burner unit may be suspended from the mouth of the envelope, or rigidly supported over the basket. The burner unit may be mounted on a gimbal
Gimbal
A gimbal is a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object about a single axis. A set of two gimbals, one mounted on the other with pivot axes orthogonal, may be used to allow an object mounted on the innermost gimbal to remain immobile regardless of the motion of its support...

 to enable the pilot to aim the flame and avoid overheating the envelope fabric. A burner may have a secondary propane valve that releases propane more slowly and thereby generates a different sound. This is called a whisper burner and is used for flight over livestock to lessen the chance of spooking them. It also generates a more yellow flame and is used for night glows because it lights up the inside of the envelope better than the primary valve.

Fuel tanks

Propane fuel tanks are usually cylindrical pressure vessel
Pressure vessel
A pressure vessel is a closed container designed to hold gases or liquids at a pressure substantially different from the ambient pressure.The pressure differential is dangerous and many fatal accidents have occurred in the history of their development and operation. Consequently, their design,...

s made from aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

, stainless steel
Stainless steel
In metallurgy, stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French "inoxydable", is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium content by mass....

, or titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 with a valve at one end to feed the burner and to refuel. They may have a fuel gauge
Fuel gauge
A fuel gauge is an instrument used to indicate the level of fuel contained in a tank. Commonly used in cars, these may also be used for any tank including underground storage tanks.As used in cars, the gauge consists of two parts:...

 and a pressure gauge
Pressure measurement
Many techniques have been developed for the measurement of pressure and vacuum. Instruments used to measure pressure are called pressure gauges or vacuum gauges....

. Common tank sizes are 10 (38), 15 (57), and 20 (76) US gallon
Gallon
The gallon is a measure of volume. Historically it has had many different definitions, but there are three definitions in current use: the imperial gallon which is used in the United Kingdom and semi-officially within Canada, the United States liquid gallon and the lesser used United States dry...

s (liters
Litre
pic|200px|right|thumb|One litre is equivalent to this cubeEach side is 10 cm1 litre water = 1 kilogram water The litre is a metric system unit of volume equal to 1 cubic decimetre , to 1,000 cubic centimetres , and to 1/1,000 cubic metre...

). They may be intended for upright or horizontal use, and may be mounted inside or outside the basket.

The pressure necessary to force the fuel through the line to the burner may be supplied by the vapor pressure
Vapor pressure
Vapor pressure or equilibrium vapor pressure is the pressure of a vapor in thermodynamic equilibrium with its condensed phases in a closed system. All liquids have a tendency to evaporate, and some solids can sublimate into a gaseous form...

 of the propane itself, if warm enough, or by the introduction of an inert gas such as nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

. Tanks may be preheated with electrical heat tapes
Trace heating
Electric trace heating, also known as electric heat tracing, heat tape or surface heating, is a system used to maintain or raise the temperature of pipes and vessels. Trace heating takes the form of an electrical heating element run in physical contact along the length of a pipe. The pipe must...

 to produce sufficient vapor pressure for cold weather flying. Warmed tanks will usually also be wrapped in an insulating blanket to preserve heat during the setup and flight.

Instrumentation

A balloon may be outfitted with a variety of instruments to aid the pilot. These commonly include an altimeter
Altimeter
An altimeter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of an object above a fixed level. The measurement of altitude is called altimetry, which is related to the term bathymetry, the measurement of depth underwater.-Pressure altimeter:...

, a rate of climb (vertical speed) indicator
Variometer
The term variometer also refers to a type of variable transformer or an instrument for measuring the magnitude and direction of a Magnetic field....

 known as a variometer, envelope (air) temperature, and ambient (air) temperature. A GPS
Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System is a space-based global navigation satellite system that provides location and time information in all weather, anywhere on or near the Earth, where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites...

 receiver can be useful to indicate ground speed (traditional aircraft air speed indicators would be useless) and direction.

Combined mass

The combined mass of an average system can be calculated as follows:
component pounds kilograms
100000 cu ft (2,831.7 m³) envelope 250 113.4
5-passenger basket 140 63.5
double burner 50 22.7
3 20-gallon (75.7-liter) fuel tanks full of propane 3 × 135 = 405 183.7
5 passengers 5 × 150 = 750 340.2
sub total 1595 723.5
100000 cu ft (2,831.7 m³) of heated air 5922 2686.2
total (3.76 tons) 7517 3409.7

using a density
Density of air
The density of air, ρ , is the mass per unit volume of Earth's atmosphere, and is a useful value in aeronautics and other sciences. Air density decreases with increasing altitude, as does air pressure. It also changes with variances in temperature or humidity...

 of 0.9486 kg/m³ for dry air heated to 210 °F (99 °C).

Generating lift

Raising the air temperature inside the envelope makes it lighter than the surrounding (ambient) air. The balloon floats because of the buoyant force exerted on it. This force is the same force that acts on objects when they are in water and is described by Archimedes' principle. The amount of lift (or buoyancy
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

) provided by a hot air balloon depends primarily upon the difference between the temperature of the air inside the envelope and the temperature of the air outside the envelope. For most envelopes made of nylon fabric, the maximum internal temperature is limited to approximately 120 °C (250 °F).

It should be noted that the melting point of nylon is significantly higher than this maximum operating temperature
Operating temperature
An operating temperature is the temperature at which an electrical or mechanical device operates. The device will operate effectively within a specified temperature range which varies based on the device function and application context, and ranges from the minimum operating temperature to the...

 — about 230 °C (450 °F). However the lower temperatures are generally used because the higher the temperature, the more quickly the strength of the nylon fabric degrades over time. With a maximum operating temperature of 120 °C (250 °F), balloon envelopes can generally be flown for between 400 and 500 hours before the fabric needs to be replaced. Many balloon pilots operate their envelopes at temperatures significantly below the maximum to extend envelope fabric life.

The lift generated by 100,000 ft³ (2831.7 m³) of dry air heated to various temperatures may be calculated as follows:
air temperature air density air mass lift generated
68 °F, 20 °C 1.2041 kg/m³ 7517 lb, 3409.7 kg 0 lb, 0 kg
210 °F, 99 °C 0.9486 kg/m³ 5922 lb, 2686.2 kg 1595 lb, 723.5 kg
250 °F, 120 °C 0.8978 kg/m³ 5606 lb, 2542.4 kg 1912 lb, 867.3 kg


The density of air
Density of air
The density of air, ρ , is the mass per unit volume of Earth's atmosphere, and is a useful value in aeronautics and other sciences. Air density decreases with increasing altitude, as does air pressure. It also changes with variances in temperature or humidity...

 at 20 °C, 68 °F is about 1.2 kg/m³. The total lift for a balloon of 100,000 ft³ heated to (99 °C, 210 °F) would be 1595 lb, 723.5 kg. This is just enough to generate neutral buoyancy for the total system mass (not including the heated air trapped in the envelope, of course) stated in the previous section. Liftoff would require a slightly higher temperature, depending on the desired rate of climb. In reality, the air contained in the envelope is not all the same temperature, as the accompanying thermal image shows, and so these calculations are based on averages.

For typical atmospheric conditions (20 °C, 68 °F), a hot air balloon heated to (99 °C, 210 °F) requires about 3.91 m³ of envelope volume to lift 1 kilogram (62.5 ft³/lb). The precise amount of lift provided depends not only upon the internal temperature mentioned above, but the external temperature, altitude above sea level, and humidity of the surrounding air. On a warm day, a balloon cannot lift as much as on a cool day, because the temperature required for launch will exceed the maximum sustainable for nylon envelope fabric. Also, in the lower atmosphere, the lift provided by a hot air balloon decreases about 3% for each 1,000 meters (1% per 1,000 ft) of altitude gained.

Montgolfiere

Standard hot air balloons are called Montgolfiere balloons and rely solely on the buoyancy of hot air provided by the burner and contained by the envelope. This style of balloon was developed by the Montgolfier brothers
Montgolfier brothers
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were the inventors of the montgolfière-style hot air balloon, globe aérostatique. The brothers succeeded in launching the first manned ascent, carrying Étienne into the sky...

, and had its first public demonstration on 4 June 1783 with an unmanned flight lasting 10 minutes, followed later that year with manned flights.

Hybrid

The 1785 Rozière balloon
Rozière balloon
The Rozière balloon is a type of hybrid balloon that has separate chambers for a non-heated lifting gas as well as a heated lifting gas...

, a type of hybrid balloon, named after its creator, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, has a separate cell for a lighter than air gas (typically helium
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

,) as well as a cone below for hot air (as is used in a hot air balloon) to heat the helium at night. Hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 gas was used in the very early stages of development but was quickly abandoned due to the obvious danger of introducing an open flame near the gas. All modern Roziere balloons now use helium as a lifting gas
Lifting gas
Because of the Archimedes' principle, a lifting gas is required for aerostats to create buoyancy. Its density is lower than that of air . Only certain lighter than air gases are suitable as lifting gases.- Hot Air :...

.

Solar

Solar balloon
Solar balloon
A solar balloon is a balloon that gains buoyancy when the air inside is heated by the sun's radiation, usually with the help of black or dark balloon material. The heated air inside the solar balloon expands and has lower density than the surrounding air. As such, a solar balloon is similar to a...

s are hot air balloons that use just solar energy captured by a dark envelope to heat the air inside.

Safety equipment

To help ensure the safety of pilot and passengers, a hot air balloon may carry several pieces of safety equipment.

In the basket

To relight the burner if the pilot light goes out and the optional piezo ignition fails, the pilot should have ready access to a flint spark lighter
Flint spark lighter
A flint spark lighter is a type of lighter used in many applications to safely light a gaseous fuel to start a flame...

. Many systems, especially those that carry passengers, have completely redundant fuel and burner systems: two fuel tanks, connected to two separate hoses, which feed two distinct burners. This enables a safe landing in the case of a clog somewhere in one system or if a system must be disabled because of a fuel leak.

A fire extinguisher
Fire extinguisher
A fire extinguisher or extinguisher, flame entinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations...

 suitable for extinguishing propane fires is a useful piece of safety equipment in a balloon. Most balloons carry a 1 kg AB:E
Fire classes
In firefighting, fires are identified according to one or more fire classes. Each class designates the fuel involved in the fire, and thus the most appropriate extinguishing agent. The classifications allow selection of extinguishing agents along lines of effectiveness at putting the type of fire...

 type fire extinguisher.

A handling or drop line is mandatory safety equipment in many countries. It is a rope or webbing of 20 – 30 metres in length attached to the balloon basket with a quick release connection at one end. In very calm wind conditions the balloon pilot can throw the handling line from the balloon so that the ground crew can safely guide the balloon away from obstructions on the ground.

On the occupants

At a minimum the pilot should wear flame resistant gloves. These can be made of leather or some more sophisticated material, such as nomex
Nomex
Nomex is a registered trademark for flame resistant meta-aramid material developed in the early 1960s by DuPont and first marketed in 1967.- Properties:...

. These will enable the pilot to shut off a gas valve in the case of a leak even if there is a flame present. Quick action on the pilot's part to stop the flow of gas can turn a potential disaster into an inconvenience. In addition, the pilot should wear clothes made of natural fibers. These will singe and not burn readily if brought into contact with an open flame. Many synthetic fibers, unless especially formulated for use near flame or high temperatures like nomex, will melt onto the wearer and can cause severe burning. Finally, some balloon systems, especially those that hang the burner from the envelope instead of supporting it rigidly from the basket, require the use of helmets by the pilot and passengers.

On the ground crew

The ground crew should wear gloves on their hands whenever the possibility of handling ropes or lines exists. The mass and exposed surface to air movement of a medium sized balloon is sufficient to cause rope burns to the hands of anyone trying to stop or prevent movement. The ground crew should also wear sturdy shoes and at least long pants in case of the need to access a landing or landed balloon in rough or overgrown terrain.

Maintenance and repair

As with aircraft, hot air balloons require regular maintenance to remain airworthy. As aircraft made of fabric and that lack direct horizontal control, hot air balloons may occasionally require repairs to rips or snags. While some operations, such as cleaning and drying, may be performed by the owner or pilot, other operations, such as sewing, must be performed by a qualified repair technician and recorded in the balloon's maintenance log book.

Maintenance

To ensure long life and safe operation, the envelope should be kept clean and dry. This prevents mold
Mold
Molds are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. Molds are not considered to be microbes but microscopic fungi that grow as single cells called yeasts...

 and mildew from forming on the fabric and abrasion from occurring during packing, transport, and unpacking due to contact with foreign particles. In the event of a landing in a wet (because of precipitation or early morning or late evening dew) or muddy location (farmer's field), the envelope should be cleaned and laid out or hung to dry.

The burner and fuel system must also be kept clean to ensure safe operation on demand. Damaged fuel hoses need to be replaced. Stuck or leaky valves must be repaired or replaced. The wicker basket may require occasional refinishing or repair. The skids on its bottom may require occasional replacement.

Balloons in most parts of the world are maintained in accordance with a fixed manufacturer's maintenance schedule that includes regular (100 flight hours or 12 month) inspections, in addition to maintenance work to correct any damage. In Australia, balloons used for carrying commercial passengers must be inspected and maintained by approved workshops.

Repair

In the case of a snag, burn, or rip in the envelope fabric, a patch may be applied or the affected panel completely replaced. Patches may be held in place with glue, tape, stitching, or a combination of these techniques. Replacing an entire panel requires the stitching around the old panel to be removed, and a new panel to be sewn in with the appropriate technique, thread, and stitch pattern.

Licensing

Depending on the size of the balloon, location, and intended use, hot air balloons and their pilots need to comply with a variety of regulations.

Balloons

In the USA, balloons below a certain size (empty weight of less than 155 pounds or 70 kg including envelope, basket, burners and empty fuel tanks) can be used as an ultralight aircraft
Ultralight aircraft (United States)
Ultralight aircraft in the United States are much smaller and lighter than ultralight aircraft in all other countries.In the USA ultralights are classified as vehicles and not aircraft and are thus not required to be registered or for the pilot to have a pilot licence or certificate.- US definition...

 and cannot carry passengers, except for pilot training
Flight training
Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills....

. Anything larger than that must be registered (have an N-number
Aircraft registration
An aircraft registration is a unique alphanumeric string that identifies a civil aircraft, in similar fashion to a licence plate on an automobile...

), have an airworthiness
Airworthiness
Airworthiness is a term used to describe whether an aircraft has been certified as suitable for safe flight. Certification is initially conferred by a Certificate of Airworthiness from a National Airworthiness Authority, and is maintained by performing required maintenance actions by a licensed...

 certificate, and pass annual inspections.

In the United States of America

In the United States, a pilot of a hot air balloon must have a pilot certificate
Pilot certification in the United States
Pilot certification in the United States is required for an individual to act as a pilot of an aircraft. It is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration , a branch of the Department of Transportation...

 from the Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

 (FAA) and it must carry the rating of "Lighter-than-air free balloon", and unless the pilot is also qualified to fly gas balloons, will also carry this limitation: "Limited to hot air balloons with airborne heater". A pilot does not need a license to fly an ultralight
Ultralight aviation
The term "ultralight aviation" refers to light-weight, 1- or 2-person airplanes., also called microlight aircraft in the UK, India and New Zealand...

 aircraft, but training is highly advised, and some hot air balloons meet the criteria.

To carry paying passengers for hire (and attend some balloon festivals
Hot air balloon festivals
Hot air balloon festivals are held annually in many places throughout the year, allowing hot air balloons to gather and participate in various activities. They can include races; evening "night glows", in which balloons are fired while remaining tetheted to the ground; and rides.- External links...

), a pilot must have a commercial pilot certificate. Commercial hot air balloon pilots may also act as hot air balloon flight instructor
Flight instructor
A flight instructor is a person who teaches others to fly aircraft. Specific privileges granted to holders of a flight instructor qualification vary from country to country, but very generally, a flight instructor serves to enhance or evaluate the knowledge and skill level of an aviator in pursuit...

s. While most balloon pilots fly for the pure joy of floating through the air, many are able to make a living as a professional balloon pilot. Some professional pilots fly commercial passenger sightseeing flights, while others fly corporate advertising balloons.

In the UK

In the UK, the person in command must hold a valid Private Pilot's Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority specifically for ballooning; this is known as the PPL(B). There are two types of commercial balloon licences: CPL(B) Restricted and CPL(B) (Full). The CPL(B) Restricted is required if the pilot is undertaking work for a sponsor or being paid by an external agent to operate a balloon. The pilot can fly a sponsored balloon with everything paid for with a PPL unless asked to attend any event. Then a CPL(B) Restricted is required. The CPL(B) is required if the pilot is flying passengers for money. The balloon then needs a transport category C of A (certificate of air worthiness). If the pilot is only flying sponsor's guests, and not charging money for flying other passengers, then the pilot is exempted from holding an AOC (air operator's certificate) though a copy of it is required. For passenger flying, the balloon also requires a maintenance log.

In Australia

In Australia, a commercial operation must operate with a nominated Chief Pilot and under an Air Operators Certificate from the Australian Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA). Pilots must have different levels of experience before they are allowed to progress to larger balloons. Hot air balloons must be registered aircraft with the CASA and are subject to regular airworthiness checks by authorised personnel.

Manufacturers

The largest manufacturer of hot air balloons in the world is Cameron Balloons
Cameron Balloons
Cameron Balloons is a company established in 1971 in Bristol, England by Don Cameron to manufacture hot air balloons. Cameron had previously, with others, constructed ten hot air balloons under the name Omega. Production was in the basement of his house, moving in 1972 to an old church in the city...

 of Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

, England, who also own Lindstrand Balloons
Lindstrand Balloons
Lindstrand Balloons is a manufacturer of hot air balloons and other aerostats. The company was started by Swedish-born pilot and aeronautical designer Per Lindstrand in Oswestry, England, as Colt Balloons in 1978...

 of Oswestry
Oswestry
Oswestry is a town and civil parish in Shropshire, England, close to the Welsh border. It is at the junction of the A5, A483, and A495 roads....

, England. Cameron Balloons, Lindstrand Balloons and another English balloon manufacturing company, Thunder and Colt (since acquired by Cameron), have been innovators and developers of special shaped balloons. These hot air balloons use the same principle of lift as conventional inverted teardrop shaped balloons but often sections of the special balloon envelope shape make no contribution to the balloon's ability to stay afloat.

The second largest manufacturer of hot air balloons in the world is Ultramagic
Ultramagic
Ultramagic is a manufacturer of hot air balloons, based at the Igualada-Òdena airfield, province of Barcelona, Catalonia. It is the only manufacturer of hot air balloons in Spain, and the second largest in the world. The company produces from 80 to 120 balloons per year, with 80% of them exported...

, based in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, which produces from 80 to 120 balloons per year. Ultramagic can produce massive balloons, such as the N-500 that accommodates up to 27 persons in the basket, and has also produced many balloons with special shapes, as well as cold air inflatables.

Aerostar International, Inc. of Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota. Sioux Falls is the county seat of Minnehaha County, and also extends into Lincoln County to the south...

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

 was North America's largest balloon manufacturer and a close second in world manufacturing before ceasing to build balloons in January 2007. Firefly Balloons
Firefly Balloons
FireFly Balloons is an American hot air balloon manufacturer that started as The Balloon Works in 1972 in Statesville, NC. The company is one of the oldest hot air balloon manufacturers in the United States, behind Raven Industries , SEMCO and Piccard Balloons...

, formerly known as The Balloon Works, is another popular manufacturer of hot-air balloons located in Statesville
Statesville, North Carolina
Statesville is a city located in Iredell County, North Carolina, United States and was named an All-America City in 1997 and 2009. The population was 24,633 at the 2010 census...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. Another long time producer of hot air balloons is Head Balloons, Inc., located in Helen, Georgia, USA
Helen, Georgia
Helen is a city located on the Chattahoochee River in White County in the north of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2000 census, the city's population was 420.-History:...

. The major manufacturers in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 are Sundance Balloons and Fantasy Sky Promotions.
There are many other manufacturers around the world including Kavanagh Balloons (Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

), Schroeder Fire Balloons (Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

) and Kubicek Balloons
Kubicek Balloons
Kubicek Balloons is a Czech manufacturer of hot-air balloons and airships, the only one in Central and Eastern Europe and one of the biggest in the World...

 (Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

).

See also

  • Aviation
    Aviation
    Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

  • Balloon satellite
    Balloon satellite
    A balloon satellite is a satellite that is inflated with gas after it has been put into orbit.-List of Balloon Satellites:...

  • Barrage balloon
    Barrage balloon
    A barrage balloon is a large balloon tethered with metal cables, used to defend against low-level aircraft attack by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables, or at least making the attacker's approach more difficult. Some versions carried small explosive charges that would be pulled up...

  • Cinebulle
    Cinebulle
    The Cinebulle is a hot air balloon specially adapted for filming. It uses a propeller on the back like a microlight.Since 1994, carried by men, horses, donkeys, Zodiac, 4X4, Quad, skidoo or helicopter, it has been all over the world to create brand new aerial images, to enable scientists and...

  • Cluster ballooning
    Cluster ballooning
    Cluster ballooning is a form of ballooning where a harness attaches a balloonist to a cluster of helium-inflated rubber balloons.Unlike traditional hot-air balloons, where a single large balloon is equipped with vents enabling altitude control, cluster balloons are multiple, small, readily...

  • Espionage balloon
    Espionage balloon
    An espionage balloon is a balloon used for spying.Espionage balloons were a development of the observation balloons used even before the World War I behind the front line...

  • First flying machine
    First flying machine
    There are conflicting views as to what was the first flying machine.Much of the debate surrounding records of early flying machines depends on the exact definition of what constitutes a "flying machine", "flight", and even "first"....

  • High altitude balloon
    High altitude balloon
    High-altitude balloons are unmanned balloons, usually filled with helium or hydrogen that are released into the stratosphere, generally reaching between ....

  • History of military ballooning
    History of Military Ballooning
    Balloons were the first mechanisms used in air warfare. Their role was strictly recognized for reconnaissance purposes. They provided humans with the first available method of elevating themselves well over the battlefield to obtain the proverbial "birds-eye view." They were an early instrument of...

  • Hot air balloon festival
  • Lighter than air
    Lighter than air
    Lighter than air refers to gases that are buoyant in air because they have densities lower than that of air .Some of these gases are used as lifting gases in lighter-than-air aircraft, which include free balloons, moored balloons, and airships, to make the whole craft, on average, lighter than air...

  • List of balloon uses
  • Non-rigid airship
    Non-rigid airship
    A blimp, or non-rigid airship, is a floating airship without an internal supporting framework or keel. A non-rigid airship differs from a semi-rigid airship and a rigid airship in that it does not have any rigid structure, neither a complete framework nor a partial keel, to help the airbag...

     (Blimp)
  • Observation balloon
    Observation balloon
    Observation balloons are balloons that are employed as aerial platforms for intelligence gathering and artillery spotting. Their use began during the French Revolutionary Wars, reaching their zenith during World War I, and they continue in limited use today....

  • Research balloon
    Research balloon
    Research balloons are balloons that are used for scientific research. They are usually unmanned, filled with a lighter-than-air gas like helium, and fly at high altitudes....

  • Sky lantern
    Sky lantern
    Sky lanterns, also known as Kongming Lantern are airborne paper lanterns traditionally found in some Asian cultures. They are constructed from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, and contain a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. When lit, the flame heats the air inside...

  • Skyhook balloon
    Skyhook balloon
    Skyhook balloons were balloons developed by Otto C. Winzen and General Mills, Inc., and used by the United States Navy Office of Naval Research in the late 1940s and in the 1950s for atmospheric research, especially for constant-level meteorological observations at very high altitudes...

  • Zeppelin
    Zeppelin
    A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

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