Hot Air Ballooning
Colorful balloons can bring a smile to
the face of a crying child. There is a variety of balloons that
brings a smile to adult faces too. These are hot air balloons,
traveling in which is a passion with many people. It is very
popular in North America and in certain parts of Europe as well.
The sport is so popular that many local hot air balloon
organizations have come up to provide the necessary information,
training and facilities required. The organizations act as a via
media between prospective ballooners and qualified instructors.
Of course, you need to hone certain skills before you can
‘pilot’ a hot air balloon. Several government stipulated
regulations are also applicable to the sport of hot air
ballooning. In fact, the flying regulations are similar to
those for light planes. The first step a learner needs to take
is to obtain a student pilot license. And on successful
completion of training under a qualified instructor, one gets a
private pilot certificate. Further experience and training
enable acquisition of a commercial pilot certificate, after
which one can hire out his services as a pilot and also become
Hot Air Ballooning Championships
World championships in the sport are held annually and several
countries participate in it. The United States also has a National
Ballooning Championship. Besides these, several local championships
are also held.
Hot air ballooning records have entered the Guinness Book of World
Records too. One such record is for five paratroopers jumping from
the same balloon and one paratrooper landing back into the same
balloon he jumped from! Excellent navigational skills account for
Another Guinness record held by balloonists is for the world’s
highest tight rope walk. The walk was performed on a steel beam
suspended between two balloons in flight.
A lot of thought and effort goes into the manufacturing of these hot
balloons. Several wireless instruments are used for accurate
navigation. Instruments like altimeters, variometers, special
thermometers and transmitters are some of the instruments used in
balloons. Secure compartments for passengers are constructed,
keeping in mind both stability and its being a vantage point for a
good view. Some balloons are constructed so as to accommodate 16–20
Different types of hot air balloons are manufactured, customized as per the
purpose it is required for. So we have sport balloons, sport
balloons specially made for competitions, commercial advertising
balloons, passenger balloons and even some special shapes like
animals, company logos etc., as per a customer’s demand. For,
another popular usage of hot air balloons is advertising. This form
of advertising has been found to have high visibility and
A lot of scientific study has gone into the fabric that is used for
making these balloons. Factors like damage from mould or mildew;
fading of colors; ability to withstand pressure; ability to resist
tear; light but strong and at the same time easy to fold and pack;
non porosity and so on are some of the tests through which a fabric
used for balloon manufacture has to pass.
The areas where hot air balloons are not allowed to fly are near
airports and on cities and towns. So the preferred locale is
generally the scenic countryside away from the city’s hustle and
bustle. Organized trips and tours are very popular in North America.
Wine growing areas are a favorite scenic option.