How Do Hot Air Balloons Land? Can You Control Where They Go?
If hot air balloons are controlled via the wind, you might be curious about how a pilot can choose a landing site for the balloon or can they land anywhere?
Hot air balloons can land anywhere they want, but restrictions apply, for example, the landing site has to be open away from animals, crops, and power lines, wind speed and direction can also influence a landing site choice, this is typically chosen by the ground crew.
Down below in our guide, we will discuss what makes a good landing site for a hot air balloon, how a pilot lands the hot air balloon and how you get out of the balloon once you have safely landed.
What Makes A Good Landing Site For A Hot Air Balloon?
Finding a landing site for a hot air balloon is mostly handled by the ground crew, for the pilot needs to be able to have access to the current wind conditions and directions and the space needs to be big and open enough to accommodate the balloon.
We’ve listed some requirements for a hot air balloon landing site below.
- The wind speed and direction – The ground crew might be able to identify a suitable landing site near the hot air balloon, but if the wind speed is too fast or in the other direction the pilot will struggle to land the balloon comfortably.
- Land size – You need a large open space for landing a hot air balloon away from civilians and buildings. Power lines also need to be far from the open space to avoid a potential collision.
- Animals – Another consideration is that the open field for landing should not have animals and crops otherwise it could cause issues with the landowner.
How Does A Pilot Land A Hot Air Balloon?
To land a hot air balloon the pilot will gradually let hot air out of the balloons canopy, he will either add more heat from the burner to slow the speed of the descent from the balloon or let more air out to speed up the descent accordingly.
During stronger winds the pilot will work harder to slow the descent of the balloon, it can sometimes feel as if you are close to trees which can be a thrilling experience, depending on the wind conditions the landing can be a little bumpy but is still entirely safe.
How Do You Get Out Of A Hot Air Balloon?
Once landed the pilot opens the valve on the hot air balloon to let the rest of the air out, the basket will then be held down by the ground crew so that passengers can disembark from the balloon, this will either be by climbing over the basket or through a thatched door depending on the style of the gondola.
Landing sites can be muddy, so we recommend wearing old shoes for this experience, but it’s worth it for the flight (and the champagne!).
Overall, hot air balloons can technically land anywhere they want as long as the space is open enough and clear of power lines and animals, the wind direction and speed will also influence where a landing site will be, with the final decision made by the ground crew who follow in a car.
Landing is very safely done by hot air balloon pilots and controlled since they have control over the speed of the descent by either adding or taking out hot air in the balloon, you might get a few bumps, but nothing too scary when landing.
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!