Most everybody has seen a balloon in the sky before, but the majority of our population has never had the opportunity to ride on a hot air balloon. Here are some interesting facts about hot air balloons.
1. Hot Air Balloons Can Get Loud
We always see in the movies where the coupe is having a nice romantic flight in a hot air balloon, but we never hear the balloon so we assume that it is always quiet. This is far from true. There are periods where the balloon ride is quiet, but in general you can except to hear a lot of noise from the burners.
2. Hot Air Balloons Are Safe?
In 1997 there were only 2 people who died in hot air balloon accidents, but when you compare the number of flight hours to that of a fixed-wing aircraft the stats show that there is over a 4X higher chance of being involved in an accident in a hot air balloon then a regular airplane. Contrary to popular belief, these balloons are much more dangerous than many other modes of transportation. There have not been as many hot air balloon deaths, but compared to the percentage of actual flight hours a hot air balloon is definitely much more dangerous than a winged aircraft flight.
This year alone there have been 11 hot air balloon deaths in a single accident at the Balloons over Wairarapa hot air balloon festival in New Zealand.
3. First Hot Air Balloon Flight
The first hot air balloon flight with a human in the hot air balloon occurred in 1873.
4. Hot Air Balloon Shapes
Everybody seems familiar with the traditional tear drop shape of a hot air balloon; however they are often made in numerous different designs, especially when it is a company promoting a product.
5. The Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
Albuquerque, New Mexico, is home to the largest hot air balloon Festival in the world. Each year thousands upon thousands of people gather for the annual balloon festival. The highlight of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival is the “Mass Ascension” in which hundreds of balloons launch simultaneously into the air.
There are so many hot air balloons in the air at one time that there are multiple “Zebras” which help to guide the air traffic and make the mass launch of hot air balloons safer.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival features hot air balloons in numerous shapes, colors, and designs. Photographers from around the world regularly attend the Albuquerque Balloon Festival each year because there is literally nothing like seeing thousands of hot air balloons in the sky at one time.
6. Record Height For a Hot Air Balloon
Vijaypat Singhania launched off in a hot air balloon from India and soared to a world record height of 68,986 feet. Vijaypat Singhania and his copilot had to wear oxygen masks in order to be able to stay alive.
7. Cost For A Balloon Ride
A Balloon ride that is untethered will generally cost you around $100-$175 per hour per person. You can bet your first time up in the air will bring a smile to your face.
8. Hot Air Balloons as a Weapon of War
Hot air balloons have been used in numerous wars throughout history. One of the most fascinating, yet rarely know uses of hot air balloons was during the American Civil War. Hot air balloons were used by both sides during the Civil War as a way to perform reconnaissance missions. In fact the first ever ship made into an Air Craft Carrier was the “George Washington Parke Custis” and a hot air balloon reconnaissance mission was launched from the ship.
9. Want To Fly Hot Air Balloons?
If you want to be a Hot air balloon pilot in the United States then you are required to be licensed by the FAA in order to get your hot air balloon pilot credentials.
10. How Much To Buy A Hot Air Balloon?
Buying a balloon can be very expensive. You can find older used balloons starting at around $6,000. A brand new hot air balloon will generally cost over $20,000. If you are planning on starting a business where you will charge people to give them a hot air balloon ride then you need to buy a hot air balloon that is designed for commercial use. These balloons will costs minimum of $40,000.
In addition to the cost of buying the balloon you will also have to pay for numerous accessories, your pilot’s license, training and testing costs for your license, a chase crew on the ground, and insurance.
Insurance for hot air balloon companies is extremely high due to the inherent risks associated with hot air balloon flying. Many hot air companies pay $7,500 or more each year simply for basic liability insurance. The costs can be even high in certain States depending upon their insurance laws.
If you still think that you might like a career as a balloon pilot then your first step should be to work with some hot air balloon companies. You may start off on the ground crew where you will help to set up and fill the balloon with gas. Once the hot air balloon is in the air you would be required to drive and act as a spotter in case anything goes wrong. When the hot air balloon lands you will need to do more work to put the hot air balloon away until the next time it is being used for paying customers.
The best way to get a job with a hot air balloon is to offer to volunteer your time on the ground crew. Learn as much as you can and eventually you can become an assistant to the pilot when it is in the air. If you work hard then you can become a balloon pilot, but it will not happen right away. As with other specialty jobs you need to get experience first.
Hot air balloon companies are more apt to hire you if you show a true interest, are a hardworker, don’t ask for a paycheck in the beginning, and are reliable. A reliable ground crew is the key to any successful hot air balloon launch.
Getting involved in this industry will can be a very exciting career, however there is often a lot of stress and hard work involved. At all times you need to take the proper precautions. Never skimp on safety because your life and the life of everybody riding with you in the basket will depend on the utmost amount of safety.
A career as a pilot of one of these aircraft will definitely be considered a "cool" job among your friends and relatives but you will definitely not have a traditional 9-5 type job. some days you may work a lot fo hours to get ready for a flight, and then an un-expected storm comes in and you are forced to pack everything up. On days like these as the owner and pilot you will work for numerous hours and still lose money for your day of work.
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