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Z-Balloon Adventures
Iowa's #1 Balloon Ride Company since 1989!

Z Balloon AdventuresHot Air Balloon FAQS - Question and Answer Page

The Basics
If you're a complete beginner to theBalloon Parts for National Hot Air Hot-AIR Balloons
entire ballooning experience, there's a world to learn about this most
beautiful way to fly.

Preparing for flight
The balloon is prepared by spreading the envelope (the big fabric portion) out on the ground, with the basket attached to it and lying over on its side. A gasoline-powered fan is normally used to inflate the balloon with cold air until it is packed full, and then the propane burners are ignited to heat the balloon up. At this point, the balloon will slowly stand up, and then it's the ground crews' job to hold the basket down with their collective weight while the pilot continues his preflight checks and boards passengers. When all is ready to go, the pilot gives his crew the signal for "weight off," and with a few more blasts of the burner, takes to the sky!

So, how does all this work?
Basically, a balloon flies because the air inside the envelope is hotter than the air outside (known as ambient air). Although some people prefer more technical explanations, it really is that simple! The burners heat the air inside and allow the pilot to control the rate of ascent & descent. When it's time to come down, the pilot can either let the air in the envelope cool off on its own, or he can open a vent at the top of the balloon to let some air out - either way works. When it's time to land, the pilot will open the deflation port all the way to spill the air out the top and deflate the balloon. The balloon will then lay on its side and patiently wait to be packed up by the pilot and crew.
Lots of Balloons!

Who can fly a Balloon?
Well, anyone can fly in a balloon, but to fly one you must become an F.A.A.-licensed balloon pilot :)

How do I become a pilot?
First "Official" thing to do is to apply for a Student Pilots' certificate which is needed to be able to make your solo flight and later flight tests with an examiner. To be a student pilot, you must be at least 14 years old and understand the English language, among other minor things.
You might have already received and logged some ground and flight instruction at this point, but if not, what are you waiting for?
The next phase is to find an instructor willing to teach you. Any commercial balloon pilot in the U.S. has the privileges of acting as balloon flight instructor, so there will be a number of pilots to help you get on your way.
Training involves at least 10 hours of flight instruction, passing a written knowledge test, extensive ground instruction, and finally passing a flight examination with an F.A.A. inspector (also known as a Practical Test). Pass that, and you'll be granted your Private Pilot's Certificate for Hot Air Balloons!
A private pilots' certificate allows you to take passengers up, but to be able to operate for hire, you must earn your Commercial hot air balloon pilots' certificate. This involves at least 35 hours of flight time and a much more stringent and demanding flight test.

How can I get involved?
Easy! Find a balloon pilot near you and give him or her a call or email. Most pilots will be delighted to have you come out and get involved the next time they go flying. The more help, the merrier!

SIGN ME UP AS CREW! !
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  Hot Air Ballooning

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