History of Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon is one of the most adventurous and unique activity throughout the world. The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology.  The first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes on November 21, 1783, in ParisFrance, in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.

The first hot-air balloon flown in the Americas was launched from the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia on January 9, 1793 by the French aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard.

A hot air balloon is a lighter-than-air aircraft consisting of a bag, called an envelope, which contains heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket (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 than the colder air outside the envelope. As with all aircraft, hot air balloons cannot fly beyond the atmosphere. Unlike gas balloons, 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 modern sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the inlet of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from a fire resistant material such as Nomex. Modern balloons have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as rocket ships and the shapes of various commercial products, though the traditional shape is used for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.

Modern Hot Air Balloon

Modern hot air balloons, with an on board heat source, were developed by Ed Yost, beginning during the 1950s; his work resulted in his first successful flight, on October 22, 1960. The first modern hot air balloon to be made in the United Kingdom (UK) was the Bristol Belle, built in 1967. Presently, 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 set the world altitude record for highest hot air balloon flight, reaching 21,027 m (68,986 ft). He took off from downtown MumbaiIndia, and landed 240 km (150 mi) south in Panchale. The previous record of 19,811 m (64,997 ft) had been set by Per Lindstrand on June 6, 1988, in Plano, Texas.

On January 15, 1991, the 'Virgin Pacific Flyer' balloon completed the longest flight in a hot air balloon when Per Lindstrand (born in Sweden, but resident in the UK) and Richard Branson of the UK flew 7,671.91 km (4,767.10 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 streams, the Pacific Flyer recorded the fastest ground speed for a manned balloon at 245 mph (394 km/h).

Formation of Hot Air Balloon

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 cantered in the mouth is the "burner", which injects a flame into the envelope, heating the air. The heater or burner is fuelled by propane, a liquefied gas stored in pressure vessels, similar to high pressure forklift cylinders.


Modern hot air balloons are usually made of materials such as rips top nylon or Dacron (a polyester).

During the manufacturing process, the material is cut into panels and sewn together, along with structural load tapes that carry the weight of the gondola or basket. The individual sections, which extend from the throat to the crown (top) of the envelope, are known as gores or gore sections.

At the bottom of the envelope the vertical load tapes are sewn into loops that are connected to cables (one cable per load tape). These cables, often referred to as flying wires, are connected to the basket by carabineers.


The most common technique for sewing panels together is called the French felled, 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.


The fabric (or at least part of it, the top 1/3 for example) may be coated with a sealer, such as silicone or polyurethane, 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.


The top of the balloon usually has a vent of some sort, enabling 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.


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 on top of a truncated cone. More-sophisticated designs attempt to minimize the circumferential stress on the fabric, with different degrees of success depending on whether they take fabric weight and varying air density into account. 


Baskets are commonly made of woven wicker or rattan. 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.


The burner unit gasifies liquid propane, 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 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, known as 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 to ignite the propane and air mixture.

Fuel tanks

Propane fuel tanks are usually cylindrical pressure vessels made from aluminiumstainless steel, or titanium with a valve at one end to feed the burner and to refuel.