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Ballooning Information

Balloon Facts

How Big?
A typical balloon is about 55 feet across and 60 to 80 feet tall. They are categorized by how much air the envelope can contain. a common sizes is the AX-7, with an envelope volume of 77,000 cubic feet. This is the most widely flown model because it can be easily handled by a crew of three to four people. A typical envelope has aboiut 1,200 yards of material and about 3 miles of thread.

How Many People?
The size and capacity of the envelope determines the lift of the balloon, and hence how many people can be flown safely in the balloon. Less obvious, other factors are equally important: ambient temperatures, altitude above sea level, and passenger weight. These factors combined determine how many people can fly safely on a given day.

How Heavy?
A typical AX-7 system weighs about 550 pounds: the envelope weighs about 200 pounds, and the basket, fuel, and on-board equipment add another 350 pounds.

How High?
A balloon can fly, with proper weather conditions, up to 12,500 feet above sea level before oxygen is required. However, most passengers enjoy lower altitude flights, where they can talk to people on the ground, do touch-and-go (or, for the adventurous, splash-and-dash) landings, and experience the terrain below from a distance where details can be observed.

Balloons are flown in early morning or late afternoon because winds are usually calmest for 2 to 3 hours after sunrise, and 2 to 4 hours before sunset. Mid-day flights are rare due to wind and thermal activity. Flights usually last from 45 minutes to one hour, due to safety, weather and fuel capacity.

Balloons drift with the wind and at the same speed as the wind. Since winds blow in different directions at different altitudes, the pilot can change direction by changing altitude. The pilot ascends or descends by heating the air inside the balloon with the burner, or descend by letting the air in the balloon cool.

The fuel is liquid propane gas, the same gas used in an outdoor barbecue grill. Propane is environmentally-friendly, as it is clean burning, producing only water vapor and carbon dioxide.

Backup Systems
For safety, balloons have 2 completely independant burner systems. Even if both of the burners were to fail, the balloon itself acts as a giant parachute. In such a rare event, the balloon descends to earth at about the same rate as a parachute, approximately 9 to 10 miles per hour.

Pilots are certified by the FAA as either a student, private, or commerical pilots. Students receive training from certified commerical hot-air balloon flight instructors. Students must complete extensive classroom and practical training. Studenst take written exams as well as flight and oral exams for both private and commercial certificates. Our pilots make sure they are always well-rested before a flight.

Aside from the basket, burner and envelope, certain equipment is required in all balloons, including: a compass, an altimeter (altitude above sea level), a variometer (rate of ascent or descent), an envelope temperature indicator, and fuel quantity guages for all fuel tanks.

How Does All That Air Get In There?
For inflation, the balloon is spread out on the ground with the basket on its side, and while the mouth of the balloonis held open by crew members, a large fan is used to blow air into the envelope. Since the envelope is so light, the balloon can be almost entirely filled with air by the fan. Once the balloon is almost full of air, the pilot will ignite the burner and heat the air. Both basket and envelope rise into an upright position as the air is heated.

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To schedule your hot air balloon flight please click here
or call Dick or Mary Beth Young at (973) 335-9799

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