Atlantic Balloon Fiesta

September 9th, 10th, 11th, 2016

frequently asked questions

how does a hot air balloon work?

A hot-air balloon is a big bubble, and attached to the bubble or envelope is a basket for the pilot, a heat source, and fuel. When a balloon is filled to capacity a 60,000 cubic foot balloon contains about 4,500 pounds of air! In a hot-air balloon, the air inside the envelope is heated to temperatures of 100 degrees to 250 degrees greater than outside air.
When the balloon first arrives, the envelope, and the equipment are squeezed into the basket, but once it’s laid out for inflation it may be as long as 60 feet and nearly as wide! The balloonist will assemble his basket, and then will force air into the envelope. Next, the pilot will ignite the propane burner, and aim the flame directly inside the balloon. As the air begins to heat, the balloon will begin to rise. Finally he will shut off the burner. Inflated, the balloon is ready to go!

where will the balloon go when it is up in the air?

Basically wherever the wind takes him, but by selecting different altitudes, watching compasses and charts, pilots can almost fly to the destination where they want to be.

When the pilot decides to land, the maneuvering vent will be opened to dump some of the air and to descend more rapidly, fuel valves are closed and the pilot light is blown out. On the ground the ‘rip-cord’ opens the deflation port in the crown of the balloon. Then it is time for the crew to help pack and load the balloon! Then begins the long drive home.

how do i get a ride on a hot air balloon?

The cost of a balloon ride is $180.00 per person (cash only please). Launch times during the event (Thursday to Sunday evening), are approx; 6:30 am and 6:00 pm. You must arrive one hour prior to launch


Pilots have the final say about how big or small and how young or old their passengers are.
8 years old and over is the guide…but the main things are: that they are tall enough to be able to see over the sides of the basket approx; 4’…and that they are mature enough and Physically able to handle walking out of the basket upon landing.

what are hot air balloons?

The bag, or envelope as it is more properly called, is made of reinforced fabric called rip-stop nylon (some balloons are made of dacron). This material is very lightweight, but very strong. The fabric is coated on the inside to prevent leaks.

how is it inflated?

During the inflation process, ballooning becomes a group sport. Since a balloon is quite unwieldy on the ground, especially in gusty winds, it takes about four people to get the balloon inflated. Of course, the more people there are, the more fun you can have. To start off, the envelope is stretched out on the ground and attached to the basket, which is lying on its side. A small gasoline-powered fan blows hot air into the balloon. Then the burner is turned on, and the air in the balloon is heated. The hot air rises, lifting the balloon upright.

what are the baskets made of?

The baskets are made of wicker and each one is individually woven by hand.

how big are the balloons?

The typical sport balloons range in size from 65,000 to 105,000 cubic feet in volume and stand around 70 feet tall. The Tele-Direct hot air balloons are 90,000 cubic feet in volume.

how do you steer a hot air balloon?

Strictly speaking, you don’t. The balloon goes where the wind takes it. However, the winds at varying altitudes may blow in different directions and at different speeds, so the trick is to climb or descend to an altitude where the wind is blowing in the direction you want to go.

how fast does the balloon go?

As fast as the wind. Or as slow. Since the balloon has no forward propulsion systems, its speed is determined entirely by the speed of the wind.

when is the best time to fly a balloon?

Usually just after sunrise and one or two hours before sunset. This is the time of day when winds are calmest and the air is most stable.

how high do balloons fly?

Most balloon flights are between 500 and 1,000 feet above the ground. But balloons can fly at treetop level or go much higher.

how long can it stay up?

It depends. The balloon carries enough fuel to remain aloft for two hours, but factors like outside air temperatures, weight being carried in the basket and weather determine the duration of the flight.

what kind of fuel is used? 

Propane is used and is kept in pressurized tanks on the floor of the basket. The balloon carries 30 to 40 gallons of liquid propane. It is carried under pressure and passes to the burners through flexible hoses. When the valves are opened, the propane atomizes and is ignited by a pilot light in the burners. The flame may shoot out as much as 10 or 20 feet, making a loud “whoosh”.

how do you get the balloon back?

With the help of the flight crew who drive a van or pickup truck. This flight crew follows the flight of the balloon (as well as existing roads allow) and is on hand to recover the balloon when it touches down. For each balloon in the sky, it takes a dedicated ground crew of three to four people to make the flight a success.