Why are hot air balloons shaped the way they are?
The purpose of the shaped balloon is to gain lift, and it is possible in several ways:
1. By increasing surface area. Achieved by having a large surface area on the bottom (the envelope) and a smaller one at the top (the basket).
2. By reducing the volume inside the balloon. By making it thinner at the top than the bottom.
3. By changing the shape of the balloon. For example, if you want to make a round balloon, you need to have an even thickness around the whole thing. If you’re going to make a square balloon, you need to have more material at the corners than anywhere else.
4. By varying the amount of inflation. You could inflate some parts more than others to get bigger or less so that they get smaller.
5. By using different materials for different parts. For instance, you might use a strong but light fabric for the envelope and a more substantial but heavier fabric for the basket.
Can hot air balloons be any shape?
Hot air balloons can be any shape, but they usually have a round body and a pointed nose.
The balloon is full of hot air, which expands when it comes into contact with cold air. When the hot air inside the balloon cools down, it contracts and pushes it up.
Aerodynamics is always a significant factor when designing a hot air balloon.
It’s not enough to think about how giant the balloon should be; you also need to consider where the hot air will come from, what shape the balloon will take, and what kind of fabric to use.
How do I know if my balloon design is good?
If your balloon has a lot of lift, it means that the design is working as intended. However, other factors affect how well a balloon flies.
For example, wind speed and direction, temperature, altitude, weight distribution, and many other things all play a part.
The strangest shapes of hot air balloons
‘Special-shaped’ balloons are not just made up of two basic shapes but also contain other features such as fins, sails, rudders, etc.
These special-shaped balloons are also for advertising purposes.
There are many reasons why people love to attend balloon festival events, including watching hot air balloons fly over their heads.
But what do these balloons look like when not inflated? What are the most unusual shapes we see them take during the flight?
Here are some examples of strange-looking balloons:
- UFO-shaped balloon
This balloon has the meaning to resemble a UFO, with its rounded edges giving it a very smooth appearance. Germany’s largest hot air balloon festival was held annually in Günzburg.
It took off from the ground on July 4th, 2017.
German artist Michael Schäfer designed it. He says he wanted to create something that would “make people think about flying saucers.”
He said: “I don’t know whether there are UFOs out there, but I hope that my balloon will start a discussion about this topic.”
He added: “We all dream of flying through space, but we never thought about how our dreams could come true.”
- Traditional teardrop balloon shape
Some balloon companies like to use the traditional air balloon shape without fancy designs.
They may choose to put a message on the side of the balloon or add a structure to it.
However, they often keep things simple.
- Show-stopping special shape balloon
‘special-shaped’ balloons are not to be from below. Their purpose is to fly high above the ground.
For example, A hot air balloon that forms heart-shaped. The French company Balloon Factory created it.
And here’s another example of a show-stopper. This balloon is called ‘The Unicorn.’ French designer Philippe Starck designed it.
- Minion balloon
This balloon looks like it belongs to a Minion character. It was at the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
It was designed and built by the American firm Big Apple Balloon Artistry.
- Bear balloon
This balloon is to looks like a bear cub. Its first flight is at the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The design is for the theme of ‘America’s Favorite Holiday’ because it celebrates a time of togetherness and family values.
- Balloon art
Artists have long used balloons to express themselves. And now, artists can make even more interesting shapes than before.
For example, this balloon comprises thousands of tiny pieces of paper. Japanese artist Takashi Murakami designed it.
And this one is a fantastic piece of artwork. British artist Damien Hirst designed it.
It consists of hundreds of plastic bottles filled with helium gas.
- Cameron balloons
The Cameron balloons are designed well for his wedding to Kate Middleton.
The balloons were inspirations by the famous ‘crowns’ worn by kings and queens.
And some other beautiful creations.
The hot air balloon shape is structural engineering. It’s not only a pretty sight. But also a great way to travel.
Balloon manufacturers always so safety precautions when designing their balloon envelopes.
The shape of the balloon is also an aerodynamic factor.
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!