Hot Air BalloonHot Air Balloons have 3 basic compartments that make up their design. They are the envelope, basket, and burners.

The Envelope is used to store the heated air, which lifts the balloon. The most common materials used to make the envelope are rip-stop nylon and polyester. (The same materials used in parachutes.) The average size of these balloons is 50-90 feet, and hold between 19000-211000 cubic feet of air: although larger balloons can be found. These flying virtuosos can glide along at tree level or reach heights of 3000 ft.

The Basket is used to carry passengers, as well as hold navigational equipment and also to store the propane tanks which fuel the burners. These baskets are most often made with wicker because this material is strong while being lightweight. This material is flexible and thereby “absorbs” some of the impact of landings, making it easier on passengers. The basket is attached to the envelope with very secure cables that keep the basket level and prevents it from rocking which provides riders with a safe and smooth riding experience.

The Burners extract fuel from the propane tanks to heat the air and keep the balloon aloft. These burners are quite noisy, but don’t run continuously. As the air stored in the envelope cools, the burners are activated to reheat that air and maintain altitude. Running the burners for longer periods adds more heated air to the envelope and helps the balloon to go higher. The air is allowed to cool for lower flying or landings. Most balloons carry enough fuel for 2 1/2 hrs of flight time even though the average flight is around an hour in length.