This website was updated on 29/05//07
Our Balloons: Puffin G-CCHW and
The Sun Shines on the Righteous
An aerial view of Dunderry, Co. Meath
Photo (c) Aidan Murphy 2007
are aircraft, regulated under the same Aviation Regulations as every
Balloons are aerostats (static
within the air) - once a balloon is aloft, it moves in sync with
the air mass in which it floats.
The modern hot air balloon is
made up of three main parts: the envelope,
the basket, and the burner.
The envelope is the colorful "balloon"
part and is sewn into many patterns - geometric designs and custom
shapes. It is made from heat resistant, rip-stop nylon. It is coated
internally with a plastic which helps contain heat. The envelope
is folded, rolled, and stored in a canvas-like bag kept in a cool,
dry place to avoid mildew and is continuously checked for any heat
damage or tears. If well maintained, a balloon envelope should last
500 or more flying hours.
basket is woven with a tight, vertical weave of cane or bamboo and
is well suited to resisting entanglement in branches or power-lines.
finishing urethane coating inside and out ensures the wicker will
resist becoming brittle or rotten from exposure to moisture.
This maintains the wicker's
ability to flex, absorbing and distributing any bumps during landings.
The basket contains the
propane tanks and flight instruments - usually a compass, altimeter,
rate of climb indicator, fuel quantity gauge and pyrometer (envelope
The heart of the balloon
is the burner, usually rigged on a rigid brace over the pilot's
head and controlled by means of a hand valve. Hot air balloons use
plain old air as the lifting gas.
By heating the air inside
the balloon (with blasts from the burner), the pilot makes that
air less dense (lighter) than the outside air, and the balloon rises.
As the internal air cools, the balloon becomes heavier, and descends.