How It Works

How to… Pilot a hot-air balloon


1. Setting up
Firstly the burner unit must be attached to the basket, followed by the balloon envelope. Once laid out, the envelope needs to be partially inflated with a large fan. The burner is then switched on, heating up the air and fully inflating the balloon.

2. Launch
For passengers to get into the basket safely, crew members must hold the basket down. When ready, the crew then releases the balloon and the pilot fires a steady flame to get off the ground.

3. Going up
By opening a propane valve, the amount of gas being fed into the burner is increased to gain altitude.

4. Staying in control
To change direction the pilot must ascend or descend in altitude to catch specific wind flows. To travel quickly the pilot will ascend to a high altitude, or to slow down, descend.

5. Landing
Landings require the pilot to gradually release air pressure by opening a parachute valve. Touching down involves a staggered series of bumps.