5 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Hot Air Balloons

Perhaps you’ve never been on a hot air balloon before and you’re wondering what to expect on the flight. Or maybe you have just discovered the joy of Vegas hot air balloon rides, and you want to know everything about the sport! It’s understandable that you are naturally curious about this fun-filled activity. Here are the answers to your five most pressing hot air balloon questions.

How High And Fast Do Balloons Fly?

The height at which your balloon flies depends on a variety of factors. Usually, the general flying altitude for recreational balloon rides ranges from just above tree level to 3,000 FT. However, some daredevil pilots have recorded heights over 50,000 FT! On the day that you fly, your cruising altitude will be determined by atmospheric conditions including wind speed, direction, and velocity. The flight plan is also influenced by the passengers’ preferences. A balloon flies at about the speed of wind, which for safety reasons is capped at ground wind speeds of 8 MPH.

Do You Need A License To Fly?

Yes, a license is required to fly a hot air balloon, as balloons are federally licensed aircraft. There are two types of licenses pilots can get to fly hot air balloons. One is called a “Lighter Than Air” (LTA) license, which is typically used for private balloon flying. The other license is a commercial hot air balloon license. A pilot can also fly a balloon with an airman’s certificate. Students need a combination of instructor flight time and solo time (1,000 hours total) to earn a license, and they must pass a written and oral test.

How Big Are Balloons?

Balloon size varies based on what the balloon is used for. Most standard sport balloons in the US are about 55 FT in diameter. They have an average height of 60-70 FT, which is about the size of a 6-7 story building. In cubic feet, the standard size is 55,000. However, much larger balloons are flown in commercial settings. The largest ones reach up to 300,000 cubic feet!

What Fuels A Balloon?

Balloons are powered by a fuel called liquid propane gas, or LPG. A single balloon can carry up to 40 gallons of fuel in two tanks, while other balloons fly with three smaller tanks that hold up to 10 gallons each. This fuel capacity allows balloon rides to last about 45 minutes to an hour. Along with the standard fuel system, most balloons have an independent fuel system as a backup for safety.

Are There Restrictions On Who Can Fly?

Most people who are in good health, and who can stand for the entire ride, are permitted on Vegas hot air balloon rides. However, pregnant women and children under 12 are not allowed to fly. People who have gone scuba diving in the past 48 hours are also not allowed to fly. Flying is also discouraged for people who have had knee or hip replacements.

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