Technical details | Flight Characteristics
In Australia, hot air balloons generally fly when the air is cool and the wind is light - early in the morning. As hot air balloons only move with the wind, our flights are scheduled to operate in the calmest period around sunrise . The reason being is that a balloon is really just a giant bag of material held upright by the inflation of hot air. Standing between 20 and 30 metres high, a balloon can become extremely unruly if the wind is blowing over about 15km/hr. In such conditions the fabric envelope can act like a giant spinnaker or sail in catching the breeze, causing ground management difficulties.
Promotional balloons flights may be conducted outside of the above optimal conditions, but do require skilful piloting. These "promo" balloons often sustain significantly greater wear and tear of equipment. This is due to increased UV exposure from higher flying hours plus more fast, drag landings over a period of time.
Hot air balloons come in different sizes - from small promotional balloons that carry one or two people to the large passenger balloons that can carry up to 20 passengers. The difference is based on the volume of the balloon envelope. The envelope is made from silcon coated rip stop nylon similar to parachute or spinnaker fabric.
The lift-generating heat is caused by burning LPG throught the hand-made, stainless steel, balloon burners. On average - a one hour flight in a passenger balloon might burn between 150- 180 litres of LPG.
Hot Air Balloons can be used for free flight or tethered operations .
Free Flight is when a balloon takes off and flies from point A to point B on the wind. This is the major 'skill' in ballooning. Pilots must be able to read the prevalent wind conditions in order to choose a suitable launch site, judge the flight path and most importantly, elect an area in which to execute a safe landing. Good balloon pilots must possess an intrinsic understanding of meteorology.
Tethered ballooning is when the balloon is tied to attachment points on the ground and goes up and down like a YoYo. Tethers are used at events where static display is required and the balloon doesn't need to fly off.