Low-flying hot air balloons and hot air balloon landings

Low Flying Hot Air Balloons

Low-Flying Hot Air Balloons are a type of hot air balloon that flies at “Why are the hot air balloons flying so low?” and “the hot air balloon flew just above my house” are two of the most popular inquiries we see on social media. Most people are curious because they are concerned about their safety, while some are worried about legality. We’ll go over why hot air balloons commonly fly low, the landing techniques used by balloon pilots, and the legitimacy of flying so close to the earth.

Landing a hot air balloon is a difficult task that requires art and science. When landing, pilots must consider several factors, including the direction of the wind, the weight of the balloon, and the height of obstructions around the landing location. Landing a hot air balloon is sometimes compared to landing a 747 on a severely deteriorated runway; it’s a complicated task requiring a great deal of expertise and experience.

Minimum Altitudes For All Aircraft According To The FAA

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has the same minimum altitudes for all types of aircraft. Fixed-wing aircraft, ultralight aircraft, hot air balloons, and anything else that can fly fall into this category. If you’re interested in reading the FAA’s advisory circular on hot air balloons.

Hot Air Balloon Descent Using Stair Steps

Before beginning their 3-degree landing process, hot air balloon pilots employ a series of steep descents while at altitude. The stair-step approach is the name for this method. When possible, hot air balloon pilots can employ the stair-step method to minimize protracted flight portions at low altitudes. This technology also allows pilots to navigate to a predetermined landing place using wind at various levels. Different descent rates are used in the stair-step approach, which will enable pilots to assess wind direction and speed. Balloon pilots must drop a light object to understand what the wind is doing beneath the balloon. Most hot air balloon pilots fall popcorn, Cheetos, grass blades, biodegradable paper strips, or miniature balloons.

How Fast Do Balloons Rise And Fall?

Another frequently asked question is how quickly a hot air balloon can ascend or drop. There are two drawbacks. One restriction is based on the total weight of passengers in a hot air balloon, while the hot air balloon manufacturer imposes the other to ensure safe operation. Although hot air balloon manuals include particular descent and ascent rates, the common assumption is that hot air balloons have a maximum safe ascend rate of 1000 feet per minute. Most hot air balloon pilots keep their speeds between 200 and 800 feet per minute. The rate of descent is fascinating. The hot air balloon envelope has a lot of drag and works like a parachute. The maximum drop is determined by the number of persons in the basket and their weight. A weakly laden balloon may descend at 750 feet per minute, whereas a strongly loaded larger balloon may descend at 1200 feet per minute. The goal is to give the pilot enough time to use the propane burner to stop the balloon from hitting the earth.

Wind and Weather

Pilots of hot air balloons usually have a specific goal and a certain landing spot. Hot air balloons, according to the FAA, are non-steerable aircraft. Hot air balloons can only change direction by employing varying heights of wind or geological factors that influence wind flow direction. Aeronauts plan out their intended flight path before approaching a balloon flight. To understand upper-level wind direction and speed, pilots use data from the National Weather Service, computer models, weather station data, and real-time weather. There are good ballooning conditions, moderate ballooning circumstances, and terrible ballooning conditions. Hot air balloons normally only fly in favorable wind conditions and never in or near inclement weather. Although hot air balloons may fly in strong gusts at altitude, calm winds on the ground are necessary for a safe landing.

The Winds Are Constantly Shifting

Unfortunately, the wind is always changing due to pressure systems, air temperature, heating, and cooling. Most of the currents used by hot air balloons below 3000 feet can only be detected by releasing a helium balloon before the trip, sending up a drone to collect wind data, or dropping light items from a great height and watching them slowly descend. Steering a hot air balloon is an art and science, and some people are better at it than others.

Flight Paths of Hot Air Balloons

Once the hot air balloon is in, the pilot will record the real wind speed and direction at various heights in his head. In their heads, they effectively generate a three-dimensional wind map. The balloon pilot then utilizes this information to tack back and forth in the direction of where they want to land. The landing spot will be reevaluated if the wind strength or direction changes.

Choosing a Hot Air Balloon Landing Location

A trip to the grocery store to buy a dozen eggs is comparable to landing a hot air balloon. Most people hope to find a parking spot directly in front of the store’s entrance. Unfortunately, it’s only a stroke of luck. It happens occasionally, but more often than not, you’ll drive around the parking lot looking for a better spot. In hot air ballooning, this is exactly what happens. Pilots choose a specific landing site where they want to arrive. Unfortunately, the wind direction shifted owing to an unforeseen event (the pressure, heat of the ambient air, or the geology). You get excited when you see open space as you drive around the parking lot. Unfortunately, you realize it is a disability parking area, and parking there is prohibited. Hot air balloons are unable to settle anywhere they like. Hot air balloons cannot land in the middle of the highway, on top of a building, in a body of water, or next to powerlines unless it is an emergency. You find a parking spot as you continue your quest! Unfortunately, one of the automobiles has done poorly parking and crossed the line too far.

Taking Part In A Hot Air Balloon Race

So you’ll know why the next time you see a hot air balloon landing or flying low for an extended period! Being near hot air balloons is a memorable experience, whether you’re chasing balloons on the ground or enjoying a hot air balloon journey! You are always welcome to observe and question the ground personnel as they pursue the balloons. We ask that you do not accompany the crew onto a property without their consent!