It’s a beautiful thing, the simple act of a hot air balloon landing. It’s almost hypnotic, as one watches the pilot ease the balloon down to the ground while the passengers jubilantly jump up and down, trying to catch a glimpse of their ride.
The landings are always exciting, but there is a certain level of complexity added by the fact that the balloons are made of latex and filled with hot air.
The landing of a hot air balloon is called an “approach and landing” and there are occasions where the balloonist will request assistance from the ground crew. This is typically due to low visibility conditions or inability to see the landing area.
A balloon pilot will usually make a radio call to the ground crew on approach to the landing area. In response, the ground crew will indicate where the balloon should land and signal the pilot to land in the designated area with colored smoke grenades or flags.
The balloon pilot will then make a final landing approach and maneuver to land on the ground. When the balloon is ready to land, the pilot will slow the burners (usually to about half) and allow the balloon to descend slowly.
A hot air balloon lands by deflating the envelope and allowing it to drop. A pilot uses a burner to ascend and ascend before letting the air catch the balloon.
Do hot air balloons land where they take off?
As we all know, hot air balloons float in the sky and the wind carries them for miles across the earth. These gossamer craft are big, beautiful and some even carry passengers.
However, you may notice that they land where they take off. When you see a hot air balloon flying over a city, you immediately come to the rescue of the pilot and exclaim, “where are you going?” because you can’t possibly be going anywhere without a destination.
However, when the balloon returns, you don’t ask where it is going because the pilot knows.
So, what do you think? Are hot air balloons supposed to land where they take off? Or is this a case of the balloon landing where it is supposed to?
Hot air balloons are lighter than air, so they can’t land anywhere they take off. They need hot air so they can fly. The hot air is produced by burning propane and the balloon gets lighter as the gas is burned. If the balloon lands, the gas will leak out and the hot air will escape.
In most cases, No. Hot air balloons take off and land near a pre-determined launch site. This is due to weather conditions, safety concerns, and other factors.
Finding the landing site
If you have ever flown in a hot air balloon, you may wonder where the pilot actually lands them. You may even say to yourself that hot air balloons have an incredibly short life span, and you may be frustrated with your lack of success at finding the place to land your balloon.
But, as you fly, you notice that your hot air balloon is not following the planned flight path that you or the pilot have created. In fact, your balloon is flying in a direction that you had never planned on, and you wonder if it is going to crash.
Sometimes the pilot may make a mistake in landing location, or the hot air balloon may be flown to its destination and just released. The pilot may decide to land outside of the designated landing site, or maybe the wind is blowing in a direction that makes the balloon difficult to land.
While hot-air balloons are often viewed as a fun and relaxing way to travel, they have the potential to become a very dangerous situation if you do not know how to properly land your balloon.
With that being said, there are some basic landing considerations to consider when landing your balloon that you should follow.
In order to land an air balloon, it is necessary to find a flat area of land, then mark it with a portable gas burner. Then, you can descend gradually until the basket touches the ground.
Balloon pilots use either the option of soft landing or hard landing. Soft landing is when a balloon is flown down to a relatively soft spot such as a meadow or a field.
A hard landing is when a balloon is flown down to any area where landing is possible such as a road or a forest.
The size of the area availability
The pilot of the hot air balloon has to consider the size of the available landing area when planning the flight. The available area on a clear ground must be considered, for example, may be up to 30 times larger than the area needed by a hot air balloon.
So, the pilot has to consider the size of the area and the wind speed to decide on the optimum landing spot.
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!