Intro to Ballooning
The first hot air balloon passengers were a sheep, a duck and a chicken, flying over France in the 1700’s. Since then, ballooning has spread far and wide, with flights happening all over the world every single day.
Hot air balloons consist of a fabric envelope, a wicker basket and a propane burner. The envelope (the bright, recognizable top part of the balloon) is inflated with air, which is heated by the propane burner. The basket is attached to the bottom for passengers and the pilot to stand in. Some envelopes come in special shapes, such as animals, cartoon characters and vehicles.
Balloons go with the wind. Because of this, they cannot be flown in too little wind (as the balloon won’t go anywhere) or too much wind (for safety reasons). Balloons cannot be steered in the same way a car or a bike can; it nearly impossible to predict the landing location in advance. For this reason, balloons have chase crew. A team of crew follows the balloon on the ground, and meet the balloon upon landing. Once the balloon has landed, the crew helps the pilot pack up the balloon and load it back into the truck.
Traditionally, balloon rides end with a champagne toast. This tradition dates back to the very first balloon ride- the sheep, duck and chicken were sent with a bottle of champagne as a peace offering for the farmer of the field they would eventually land in.