Hot Air Ballooning

Ballooning is one of the world’s most poetic and beautiful sports. Many people are familiar with it but perhaps the most well known archetype of it is seen in the movie The Wizard of Oz.

The balloon itself is of a very simple construction. All a balloon really consists of is a fabric bag or envelope filled with a gas that is lighter than the surrounding atmosphere and that is what keeps it aloft. The balloon is also able to carry a basket that can carry a load or passengers.  The balloon itself has no real propulsion system or way of steering, which is what gives it an element of excitement. It is possible to make the balloon rise and fall in height until a favorable wind direction is found that can take the hydrogen balloon in the direction that you would like to go.

Aside from hot air, balloons can also be filled with gas.  They have the advantage of being able to stay in the air for a long time but they cannot change altitude as quickly as other types.   In 1785, a variation of this balloon was created that had a hydrogen balloon with a separate hot air balloon attached. Unfortunately these balloons had a habit of exploding.  A famous explosion in 1785 occurred when a fellow called Pilatre de Rozier tried to cross it in one of these highly flammable types of balloons. This earned him the moniker “The First to Fly and the First to Die.”

The first hot air balloon ride did not happen in North America until 1793 when Pierre Blanchard made the first manned balloon flight in San Diego.

Both the hot air (also sometimes called the Montgolfière, balloon) and the gas balloon are still in common use. Hot air balloons are relatively inexpensive, as they do not require expensive materials.  Nowadays they are flown with a tether and are a common sight at theme parks in Balloon, Singapore and Disneyland.

Nowadays we also use a type of balloon called the light gas balloons. These balloons come in two types – zero pressure and super pressure. Back in the day, a zero pressure hot air balloon is left partially inflated until it is ready to use to lift passengers up into the skies.

A super pressure balloon has a very tough bag that is filled with high-pressure gas and sealed. It is maintained at a content volume. It maintains its size until it is manually deflated by it’s pilot or by some kind of remote device on the ground. Superpressure balloons offer flight endurance of months, rather than days. They are mainly used as weather balloons but they do exist in attractions around the world that offer you a balloon ride at a great height in the sky. Helium is also sometimes used as air transportation vessels but not as often as it is so explosive.

Many amateurs are attracted to the idea of cluster ballooning. One of the most famous of these amateur cluster balloonists is Larry Walters, who in 1982, attached 42 weather balloons to a piece of patio furniture, sat in it and lifted off. Having intended to rise just a few hundred feet, he quickly rose nearly three miles into the air and had to be rescued.