Fun Hot Air Balloon Facts

Of course, I took a gazillion pictures when Randy and I went to the Winthrop Balloon Festival a few weeks months back.  What better way to share the pictures than to share some fun hot air ballon facts at the same time.

Hot air balloons were invented in France in 1783.  (Yes, I am aware that the above picture is not a hot air balloon.)

The first passengers in a hot air balloon were a sheep, a duck and a chicken.  Which kinda sounds like the start of a nasty joke.

The first manned balloon flight traveled over Paris for 5.5 miles and stayed airborne for twenty-three minutes.

Hot air balloons are simple flying machines that consist of : 1) an envelope 2) a burner and 3) a basket.

Most envelopes have a standard balloon shape, some have been designed to look like animals, cartoon characters and other objects.

The top of the balloon usually has a vent which allows the pilot, along with the burner, to control the speed of the ascent and descent.

The burner creates an open flame by burning a mix of liquid propane and air.

The highest a hot air balloon has flown is 68,900 feet.  That is a world record.

Oxygen for the passengers is needed for heights over 16,400 feet.

“Hello, hello … is there anybody in there?”

The temperature inside a hot air balloon is usually kept below 248° Fahrenheit.

A typical envelope is made from nylon with a melting point of 446° Fahrenheit.

The Civil War had a balloon corps.  The corps was established by President Lincoln and had seven balloons, at least twelve gas generators and a flat-top balloon barge that used to be an old steamboat.

The Confederates made their own balloon, but it was eventually captured by the Union Army.

The Balloon Corps was disbanded in 1863, as it turns out that giant balloons make good targets.

The first hot air balloon flight (the one that carried the sheep, the duck and the chicken) lasted about eight minutes.

The sheep, the duck and the chicken survived.

Balloon Festivals take place all over the world.  The largest is the Albuquerque New Mexico Balloon Festival.  The festival lasts nine days and features more than 750 hot air balloons.

Hot air balloon flights are not possible in the rain.  The heat inside of the balloon can boil the rain on top of the balloon and destroy the hot air balloon fabric.

I hope no one learned that the hard way.

Traditionally, champagne is served at the end of each balloon ride.

It is said that back in the day local farmers believed that hot air balloons that were landing in their fields may have been dragons descending from the skies. To soothe the farmers’ fears and make peace, the hot air balloon pilots would share a bottle of champagne with the farmers whose land they have disturbed.

Hot air balloons have a chase crew.  This crew follows the hot air balloon throughout the entire flight in a vehicle.

The chase crew hauls the balloon, the burner and the basket as well as the passengers back after the flight.

Hot air balloon baskets are made of woven wicker or rattan.  They range in size from big enough for two people to large enough to carry thirty.

No on-board bathroom, though.  With my bladder the size of a pee, this may prevent me from fulfilling my dream of a hot air balloon ride.

The envelope is connected to the basket with cables using carabiners.  These cables are referred to as flying wires.

And there you have it.

I found all my fun facts on the following sites :

Ballooning Canterbury

Science Kids

Mental Floss

Napa Valley Aloft


What do you think?