How do hot air balloons descend?
Hot air balloons descend when they lose pressure inside them.
The balloon loses pressure because the gas inside the balloon expands due to heat.
A skilled balloon pilot can control the descent of a hot air balloon by adjusting the amount of gas in it. When the balloon is complete, there will be no more gas left, and the balloon will start descending.
Burner controls the rate at which the released gas is inside the balloon. The burner has two settings: slow and fast.
Then the pilot must have a suitable landing location for the balloon to land safely.
How do you steer a hot air balloon?
The first thing you need to do is find out which way the wind is blowing.
Then, you need to adjust the balloon’s altitude to align with the wind’s direction.
Finally, you need to adjust your speed until the balloon reaches the desired height. Steering a hot air balloon is easy when you know how to use the controls.
- Controlling landing speed
The skills of landing balloons are limited to controlling the ascent and descent of the balloon. It would be best if you also learned how to manage the landing speed of the balloon.
You need to increase or decrease the burner temperature to make this happen. It will affect the size of the balloon envelope and, therefore, its ability to glide on the ground.
To reduce the landing speed, turn down the burner.
To increase the landing speed, turn up the burner.
- Wind directions
Current wind condition is also essential to consider before attempting any flight. If the wind is strong enough, you may want to wait until it dies down before launching.
If the wind is too strong, you may want to launch early in the morning or late in the evening so that the balloon will travel faster.
If the wind is light, you may want to go ahead and fly. However, if the track of wind movement is very soft, you should wait until the variable wind conditions pick up.
These include the following:
- The direction of surface winds
- Gradient wind direction
- Suitable wind speeds
- Wind speed
- Scenario of winds
- Actual wind speed
- Suitable weather conditions
Hot air ballooning also foresees weather patterns before landing. It is best to avoid flying during rainstorms and high winds.
You should also avoid flying in areas where lightning strikes frequently.
- Check the weather forecast.
Weather forecasts help you plan your trip better. They provide information regarding the expected weather conditions.
- Normal descent rate
The rate of descent needed to reach a safe landing. It depends on many factors such as the type of balloon, terrain, weather, and the weight of the passengers.
The average descent rate is about 10-20 feet per minute in most cases.
However, some balloons can descend much faster than others.
Balloon pilots usually consider these variables to determine the appropriate rate of descent.
A suitable balloon pilot always takes precautions to ensure safety.
- Avoid power lines
Power lines can pose a danger to the balloon because they can cause electrical fires.
Therefore, you should avoid flying near them.
When approaching the ground, you need to be aware of obstacles like trees and buildings.
It would help if you also were careful when approaching water bodies such as lakes and rivers.
Water bodies can slow down the balloon’s descent rate.
What makes a suitable landing site?
A good landing site for air balloons should be large enough to accommodate all the passengers.
The ideal landing site should also be flat, smooth, and free from obstructions such as trees, power lines, buildings, etc.
Make sure there is no traffic around the area. Also, check the visibility of the landing spot.
It is advisable to choose a place with clear skies.
The flight crew should have adequate time to prepare for the landing.
Once the balloon has reached its destination, the crew needs to set up the landing gear.
They should then lower the basket using ropes attached to the balloon.
What to do on a rough landing?
When landing in an uneven field, the balloon will land at different angles depending on the area’s slope.
As a result, the passengers inside the balloon might get injured by hitting their heads against the walls.
- To prevent this, you must first stabilize the balloon using a parachute.
- Then, slowly lower the basket to the ground.
- Once the balloon reaches the ground, you should release the ballast bags.
- After that, you should remove the chute and then pull out the inflation valve.
- After that, you should untie the balloon strings from the anchor point.
- Finally, you should cut off the balloon strings and let the balloon deflate naturally.
- Please do not touch the balloon until it inflates completely.
The ground staff should inspect the balloon after the landing. It will make sure that there are no damages to the balloon.
Also, they will check whether there was any damage to the equipment inside the balloon.
The final words
The hot air balloon flight is fun, but it requires a lot of preparation before taking off and landing.
If you want to enjoy hot air balloon flights, you should follow safety guidelines and protocols.
Hot air balloons are one of the safest ways to travel. However, if you take note of the above tips, you will enjoy your next hot air balloon ride safely!
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!