- How does a Balloon work?
- How high, how fast, and how far do the balloons fly?
- What is a tethered balloon ride and how can I take one?
- Who can fly a balloon?
- What are the components of a hot air balloon?
How does a Balloon work?
Hot air balloons fly because the air inside of the envelope is hotter than the outside air. By using propane-fueled burners, the air is heated, and the balloon ascends. To descend, the air inside the balloon must be cooled by either letting the envelope cool on its own or by opening the vent at the top of the envelope to let some of the hot air out. Throughout a flight, the pilot will use a combination of heating and cooling the balloon to ascend and descend. And when it is time to land, the top of the envelope is opened completely to let all of the air out and deflate the balloon.
How high, how fast, and how far do the balloons fly?
Hot air balloons usually cruise at an altitude of 500 - 1.000 feet above ground. Many balloon flights occur between 50 and 2,000 feet above the ground, but balloons can fly at treetop level or go much higher. Once the balloon reaches 12,500 feet, oxygen is required. (But rest assured, none of the balloons at the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede will fly anywhere near that high.)
Since balloons travel with the wind, the balloon will only go as fast as the wind is blowing, generally not much faster than 8 – 10 mph. The distance the balloon will travel also depends on the speed of the wind as well as the duration of the flight.
For example, an hour-long flight with winds averaging 5 mph will travel a distance of about 5 miles.
What is a tethered balloon ride and how can I take one?
Tethered rides allow you to get a small taste of ballooning without leaving the festival grounds. These balloons are tied to the ground with tether ropes about 100 feet in length. When you get into the basket, the balloon goes up until the ropes are fully extended and then returns to the ground. The ride lasts about 5 minutes and will take place Saturday afternoon (weather pending). Thethered rides at the festival are free, and you can purchase a photo of your flight for $5.00.
Who can fly a balloon?
In order to fly a balloon, you must be an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) licensed hot air balloon pilot.
What are the components of a hot air balloon?
The two main components of a balloon system are of the envelope, or brightly colored inflatable sphere, and the gondola, or basket.
The envelope is usually made of rip-stop nylon fabric (the same fabric as a parachute)and can range anywhere from 60 to 75 feet high (and even taller on some special shape balloons!). The gondola is made of wicker and is framed by aluminum or stainless steel. It carries the propane gas tanks, an instrument panel, as well as the pilot and passengers. The instrument panel contains an altimeter, which measures altitude; a pyrometer, which measures the heat at the top of the envelope; and a variometer, which measures rate of ascent and descent.