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How Long Can A Hot Air Balloon Stay In The Air?

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What’s The Longest A Hot Air Balloon Ride Can Last?

Have you ever looked up in awe at a hot air balloon and simply wondered how long one of these balloons could stay in the air?

How Long Can A Hot Air Balloon Stay In The Air

A hot air balloon can stay in the air for as long as it can hold its heat inside which makes it light, this means the balloon would need enough fuel to keep the burner alight for the duration of the flight, weather conditions can also impact duration.

We’ve composed a short guide below which will take you through what makes a hot air balloon stay in the air, factors affecting how long a balloon can fly for as well as how long hot air balloon rides last. 

What Makes A Hot Air Balloon Stay In The Air?

Before we can move on to how long a hot air balloon stays in the air, we first need to understand how they stay in the air. 

Hot air balloons can stay suspended in the air due to buoyancy, this is because the air inside of a hot air balloon is less dense than the colder air outside of the balloon since it’s being heated by the burner. 

This displaced fluid is heavier than the balloon and basket itself which forces it up creating buoyancy. 

Main Factors Affecting How Long A Hot Air Balloon Stays In The Air 

Now we know that a hot air balloon ride exists due to buoyancy, let’s discuss the factors which influence how long a balloon stays in the air. 

  • Fuel – To stay in the air for a long time with a hot air balloon you need to make sure you have enough fuel supply to keep the burner going in the hot air balloon, this maintains the temperature and allows the balloon to fly through buoyancy. Eventually, fuel stops on a hot air balloon which causes you to land since the air inside the envelope becomes colder.
  • Weather conditions – Let’s say you have plenty of fuel and little weight, but what about weather conditions? Unexpected weather conditions can cause a ballooning accident such as rain and strong winds, influencing the duration of a ride, this is why some hot air balloons stay grounded when weather conditions are bad. 

How Long Does A Hot Air Balloons Ride Last For?

Most standard hot air balloons last between one to two hours with a moderate fuel supply however this can change to be longer or shorter for private hot air balloon rides. The whole experience might last for four hours however due to the takeoff, landing and briefing as well as the champagne after!

How High Do Hot Air Balloons Stay In The Air?

Hot air balloons stay between 2000 and 5000 feet in the air when flying which is within safe heights but enough to give you a spectacular birds-eye view. Winds can get more turbulent above this height so it’s not recommended for balloons to fly any higher.

What’s The Longest A Hot Air Balloon Has Stayed In The Air?

The longest a hot air balloon has stayed in the air recently is 34,000 km which was 13 days, it was around the world helium hot air balloon and done solo by a man called Steven Fossett. 

We’ve listed two other world record-breaking hot air balloon flights below in terms of distance. 

  • 1991 Bertrand Piccard – This explorer from Switzerland was a balloon enthusiast and set the longest distance record when flying at 25,000 miles. They flew in a Roziere balloon which has chambers for keeping heated and non-heated gas, they added solar panels to allow for communication and electricity plus has ground staff to inform them of weather changes. This is the longest hot air balloon flight recorded in the Guinness World Records.
  • 1991 Per Lindstrand – Although not as far as Bertrand and Fosset, Lindstrand made many contributions to long-distance flying with hot air balloons flying between Japan and North Canada with a distance of 6,761 miles. They used the virgin balloon flights Virgin Pacific Flyer for this task which is one of the largest balloons recorded in the world.
How Long Can A Hot Air Balloon Stay In The Air

Tips For Riding High In The Air When Ballooning

Being high in the air on a balloon is a one of a kind experience but can be overwhelming for first timers, we’ve listed some tips for getting the most out of the romance of ballooning below. 

  • Wear lots of layers – Ballooning tends to take place in the early hours of the morning, take layers rather than a sweater so as when it starts to get hotter on the balloon you can be more comfortable.
  • Listen to safety instructions – You may be instructed to crouch during landing, this will be briefed to you before getting on the balloon, pay attention so that you are clear on what to do during an emergency.
  • Check your physical conditions – If you have problems with your breathing or altitude, make this known as you might not be suitable to get on the balloon with these health conditions.
  • Go to the toilet beforehand – As we’ve discussed standard hot air balloon rides can last between 1-2 hours, make sure you go to the toilet beforehand since you don’t want to ruin the experience by holding on to your bladder!
  • Tell your weight – Some hot air ballooning companies might ask about your weight before ballooning for them to calculate how much fuel they need for the flight, never lie about this unless you want to run out of fuel mid-air!

Frequently Asked Questions About Hot Air Balloons & Flight Duration

What’s the record for endurance flying with hot air balloons?

The highest altitude a hot air balloon has ever gone is 41,424 metres, for the distance, it’s 25,000 miles.

How fast can you travel in a hot air balloon? 

Distance and speed are dependent on the wind speed in a hot air balloon, during ideal calm winds you can expect to travel at a speed between 8-10 mph.

How far do standard commercial hot air balloon flights travel?

Most standard ballooning flights cover between three-ten miles and last between 1 to 2 hours.

How Long Can A Hot Air Balloon Stay In The Air

Final Words

Overall, a hot air balloon normally stays in the air between one and two hours for a normal hot air balloon ride, but the furthest distance a hot air balloon has ever flown is 25,000 miles.

For a hot air balloon to stay in the air for longer periods of time there needs to be less weight, lots of fuel and good weather conditions, these could all potentially ground a hot air balloon flight if not monitored.

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