General Question

Spargett's avatar

How do people navigate hot air balloons?

Asked by Spargett (5377points) February 14th, 2008

And how do you climb and dive? Etc, etc.

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6 Answers

Mulot's avatar

You can only choose to climb or dive, by releasing hot air from the balloon, or warm the air in the balloon to climb. For the direction, all you can do is to let the wind carry you.

Spargett's avatar

I understand that aspect, but how do you control a craft’s direction and heading without any sort of rudder?

There has to be more to it than waiting for the wind to blow one direction, which seems highly unreliable at best.

chaosrob's avatar

Nope, that’s it. Winds at different altitudes tend to blow in slightly different directions all the time. Climb or sink until you find one headed your way.

kevbo's avatar

Yeah, Albuquerque is big for ballooning for what’s known as a box effect. The lower layer of air usually moves south and the upper layer north. On a good day, balloonists can take off and land in the same area.

They also watch other balloonists to see the directions of the wind. When they see one traveling the direction they want to go, they climb or descend to that altitude.

Randy's avatar

Well if they can’t controll direction whatsoever, what keeps them from running into eachother? Does the warming and cooling of the air affect the rise and fall that quickly?

kevbo's avatar

Sometimes they do run into each other, but the speeds are usually very low, and it’s quite literally an airbag bumping into an airbag.

They do rise and descend fairly fast (like helium ballon speed maybe. The pilot can open a vent at the top to let out air as needed.

The two biggest hazards in ballooning are landing in high winds and power lines. High winds cause the basket to bounce and drag, which can toss people around and throw them out of the basket. Power lines are self expl. but it takes A LOT of vigilance to avoid them.

The other uh-oh is when someone exits the basket unexpectedly. This lightens the basket, and will send a balloon skyward about as fast as it will go.

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