In 1783, the Mongolfier brothers invented an aviation device carrying technical humans in Annoncy, France. The oldest successful flight called a hot air balloon transports humans by pushing through the air. This hot air balloon is commonly known as
Hot air balloons, as beautiful as butterflies, gentle giants of the sky, a peaceful but exhilarating way to see the countryside, suddenly seems a dangerous way to fly. Yet just a few months ago its safety record seemed flawless.
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Now, after four accidents and 17 fast successive deaths, more than the hot air will be needed to restore faith in balloons as a sport, recreation and tourist pleasure. Bad luck cannot be accepted as an explanation for a disaster involving passengers and pilots.
Hot air balloons have a long tradition, and it was unthinkable that they should be banned. It will destroy the fun and industry that includes as many high-powered aircraft to the skies and which is one of the least noisome expressions of mankind’s determination to get airborne. The premiere, Mr Bannon, was right in rejecting the ban, as he would if, following a glider or light aircraft casualties, it was proposed to ground all such aircraft.
Balloon Flying Handbook
But the disaster since August needs to be thoroughly investigated, not just to find out if there are common factors. It must be determined whether the balloon and balloon operator are satisfactorily inspected for safety. Civil aviation authorities and commercial balloon operators appear to be aware of their responsibility to learn what they can from the four accidents, but the public – aspiring passengers and people in the field need to know that structural and safety requirements and pilot skills are of the highest standard. This should be required of any public operation carrying ship passengers.
Because the two accidents involved collisions with powerlines it is possible that new regulations should be framed about where balloons are allowed to fly and knowledge balloon pilots must demonstrate the presence of power lines and other potential hazards. Vision and visibility may be a factor too, along with the ability to react quickly in an emergency; the latter may involve some pre-flight instructions to passengers.
While the Helium-filled Double Eagle has almost no control and is at the mercy of the wind, Pacific Flyer pilots will be able to maneuver the balloon up and down until it is centered at the core of the jetstream.
Balloons are adventure, and it will be a tame world that forbids the provision or enjoyment of adventure. The task of the authorities is to set standards and see that they are maintained, so that those who take to the air in balloons do not take greater risks than they know.