Are Hot Air Balloons Able To Fly In Colder Weather?
Choosing the right time of year to go on a hot air balloon can be overwhelming, you want to avoid rain, but you also want warm temperatures and good prices, so can you fly in cold weather?
Hot air balloons are fine to fly in cold weather they can perform even better in cold weather since there is a greater temperature difference to the hot air on the inside, the heavier air on the outside helps the buoyancy of the balloon.
To help you with understanding how cold weather affects balloons and when to go hot air ballooning, we’ve put together an informational guide below which will give you everything you need to know.
How Does Temperature Affect Hot Air Balloons?
Before we can dive into cold weather flying with balloons, let’s discuss the importance of temperatures and balloons, to begin with. Temperature can impact whether or not a balloon floats, the temperature inside a balloon needs to be warm so as the balloon can float, this is heated by the burner of the balloon.
Warm air is essential for buoyancy in a hot air balloon as it is less dense than cold air on the outside, the cooler the hot air balloons air becomes, the lower down it will go as the air gets heavier.
Why Do Hot Air Balloons Fly Better In Cold Weather?
Hot air balloons as we mentioned above work better in colder weather due to the bigger temperature difference, the bigger the difference in cold and hot air density in the inside of the balloon then the better it will float, hot air is lighter than cold air.
It should be noted however that pilots will often need to use more fuel during colder temperatures to keep the air warm inside.
Can Propane Tanks In Hot Air Balloons Freeze?
Many people get concerned about the propane tank freezing in colder temperatures on a hot air balloon but the likelihood of this happening is low.
Propane itself doesn’t freeze till it gets to -44 degrees Fahrenheit which is very cold, the materials tanks are made of such as aluminium, stainless steel and titanium also don’t freeze easily, in very cold temperatures, the tanks might be wrapped in some blankets to keep them warm.
What Weather Can Halt a Hot Air Balloon?
Weather conditions are one of the number one reasons why a hot air balloon can’t take off when it’s meant to due to safety reasons.
We’ve listed the main weather conditions to expect disruption from below.
- Rain – Rain is a big no-no for hot air balloons, a balloon cannot chase away from storms, the rain too can cool the air down inside which can cause the balloon to sink.
- Strong winds – Too high or low winds can be dangerous to do hot air ballooning in, ideally, winds should be a speed between 4-8 mph, this will result in a smooth flight.
- Visibility – Poor visibility from trying to fly a hot air balloon in fog can disrupt where you take off and bland in a hot air balloon the pilot will also have difficulty seeing where he’s going.
Can You Do Hot Air Ballooning In The Winter?
Many people assume that you can’t go hot air ballooning during the winter due to it being so cold, you do not however feel the cold too much when floating in a balloon due to temperature inversion and the burner inside of the balloon, it does get colder the higher climb in altitude, but not by much, especially if you are wrapped up well in layers.
We’ve listed some essentials to pack and tips if you are planning for this hot air ballooning in the winter.
- Wear a hat – The hot air rising on a hot air balloon can be very hot, wearing a hat protects your head from these high temperatures.
- Keep the layers light – Although it can be very cold high up in the sky in winter, it can also get warm due to the massive fire at the bottom of the balloon, wear light layers that you can remove with ease to feel comfortable.
- Wear sunglasses – It’s pretty bright in the sky, especially in the early mornings, sunglasses are a must-have to protect your eyes.
- Take a camera – The views on a hot air balloon will be insane, don’t forget a camera to capture these memories.
- Wear pants – Avoid wearing skirts and dresses when getting on a hot air balloon, pants are a must-have to avoid any slip-ups.
- Go to the toilet before – Make sure you go to the toilet at your accommodation beforehand, you will be in the air for around an hour where there is no toilet!
- Wear the right shoes – Avoid flip flops and heels, you need some practical shoes to get in and out of the basket, the landing and take-off sites can often be muddy too.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hot Air Balloons & Cold Weather
Can it be too hot to fly a hot air balloon?
If the temperature outside is 95-degrees and more most hot air balloons will have to stand grounded since it could potentially damage the balloon.
Should the air inside of a hot air balloon be hot or cold?
The air inside of the balloon should be warmer than the cold air on the outside for its floats and rise, this is called buoyancy since cold air is denser than warm.
What is the right air temperature to fly a hot air balloon?
The best temperature to fly a hot air balloon is around 40F above outdoor temperature when flying and 100F above when launching.
To conclude, hot air balloons can fly in colder weather without any issues, they work better in cold weather due to the bigger temperature difference which allows the warm air to be lighter inside. If the temperature gets too cold then you might need to have a backup warmer propane gas burner in case one freezes, this is unlikely, however.
I’m Annie, a twenty-something year old girl who loves hot air balloons. So much so, that I have a full time job as a Flight Instructor and it is all I love talking about. Something about being up there in the elevated altitudes helps all my stresses float away!