Home > Activities > Hot Air Ballooning

The first human carrying flight technology was the hot air balloon.

While unmanned balloons have been around in some form for thousands of years, the first untethered flight with people on board was in 1782.

The large balloon on top is called an ‘envelope’. It holds hot air created by a heat source known as a burner.

The burner creates an open flame by burning a mix of liquid propane and air.

Hot air balloons are buoyant because the hot air inside the envelope has a lower density than the colder air outside.

Passengers typically stand in a wicker basket beneath the envelope.

While most envelopes have a standard balloon shape, others are designed to look like animals, cartoon characters and other fun objects.

The top of the balloon usually has a vent which allows the pilot to control the speed of ascent/descent (along with the burner).

Hot air balloons can fly to amazing heights, the world record is over 21,000 metres! (68,900 feet). It’s tough to breathe up there so oxygen is needed from around 5,000 metres (16,400 feet).

The temperature inside a hot air balloon is usually kept below 120 degrees Celsius (248 Fahrenheit).

A typical envelope is made from nylon with a melting point around 230 degrees Celsius (446 Fahrenheit).

Hot air balloon flights and festivals are popular in various destinations around the world. Well known locations include Cappadocia (Turkey), Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA), Luxor (Egypt) and the Serengeti (Tanzania).