Hot Air Balloons
The balloon has propane burners that heat the air inside the balloon to create the lift require to carry the basket into the air. The burners are loud so be aware that when the pilot is burning you will not be able to hear others talk. When the burners are not on, you will experience the quietness of being part of the wind. Enjoy the views.
Hot air balloons generally fly during the morning and late afternoon. Balloons operate rely on air currents for speed and direction and require stable (calm to 7 knots in a predictable direction) to maintain safe operations. The Phoenix area usually has 300 days of good weather for flying.
Hot air balloons can fly practically anywhere. Balloons are registered aircraft and are under the authority of the FAA, who also owns the airspace above buildings and events.
Standard shape balloons are approximately 85 feet tall and 65 feet wide.
The fabric part of the balloon, called the envelope, is constructed of coated rip-stop nylon, similar to the material that parachutes are made from. The basket is constructed of primarily of wicker. Wicker is light, strong, and resilient to incidental damage.
Liquid propane is used to heat the inside of the balloon.
Hot air balloons are the oldest type of flying, having been invented in France in 1782. Not until the late 1960’s did the new era of ballooning arise with the new materials and designs.
Hot air balloons are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), just like airplanes. Like other aircraft, balloons require yearly safety inspections by an FAA authorized repair station.
Balloon pilots are licensed and regulated by the FAA.
Heating the air inside the balloon with propane-fueled fire causes the balloon to glow brightly. During a daytime flight, this effect is usually not seen, but during evening glows, the effect is stunning.
A tether is when the balloon does not fly freely, but is tied to the ground with a number of 100 to 150-foot ropes. While being tied off, the balloon can take passengers up into the air without flying away from the designated spot.
You should wear comfortable clothing. You should wear the type of clothing that you would wear if you be going for a walk that morning. A light jacket is sometimes comfortable in the early morning. If your pilot is going to have you help inflate and pack the balloon after the flight, you might want to wear a long sleeve cotton shirt. Women should wear pants. If the morning is cool, layered clothing is much better than a heavy coat. Shoes should be boots or tennis shoes. No open toed shoes. Remember you will be landing in a field and will have to walk to the chase vehicle. Tall passengers may find a cap useful because of the radiant heat from the burners. If you are helping with the balloon, gloves are a good thing to have. Check with your pilot as many of them have extras for passengers.
That is up to the winds. Many times a pilot can find winds going different directions at different altitudes. The pilot will use the wind directions to guide the balloon to an open area where the balloon can be safely landed. Pilots will stay away from livestock and areas with physical damages such as power-lines or sharp objects like barbed wire fences.
Some pilots will have plenty of crew to help inflate the balloon prior to the flight and pack the balloon up after the flight. If this is the case, enjoy the ride. Other pilots will want you to experience the inflation and the packing of the balloon. If you are asked to help, you will have a whole new appreciation on the work involved in flying a hot air balloon. Check with your pilot. In either case you must follow the pilot’s instructions.
Portions of this list provided courtesy of: Aeroink.com. You can see the original FAQ here.