Cat de periculos este zborul cu balonul cu aer cald

There are many preconceived ideas about hot air ballooning and that is why this activity can be scary for some people.

In what follows, we will try to dispel the myths about flying with a hot air balloon and reveal how safe and not at all terrifying hot air balloons actually are.
We will also try to find out what you need to know before getting into a hot air balloon.

Hot air ballooning is a low-risk activity

From a statistical point of view - and we are referring here to the Aviation Accident Database - the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) considers hot air ballooning to be the safest form of air travel and that very rarely was involved in plane accidents. Moreover, the FAA found that you are more likely to be injured in a car accident than if you fly by plane or hot air balloon.

There are a number of reasons why hot air balloon accidents are so rare. The main reason hot air balloons are so safe is that, unlike fixed-wing aircraft, balloons only fly in good weather and in light wind conditions.

What is the right weather for a hot air balloon flight?

Hot air balloons are very different from other types of aircraft. Hot air balloon pilots do not have a handle, but use air currents from different heights to control the direction of the balloon.

Commercial hot air balloons generally fly two hours at sunrise and two hours at sunset, a time when the winds are calmest and most constant.
Unlike fixed-wing aircraft, hot air balloons do not fly in marginal or adverse weather conditions such as storms, wind, gusts, rain or snow. Because hot air balloons are basically at the mercy of the wind, balloon pilots are experts in understanding the wind and local weather conditions.

Most aviation accidents are associated with one type or another of unfavorable or bad weather conditions. In conclusion, because balloons only fly in good conditions, there are very few balloon accidents. Logical, right?

Are there moments when the balloons are caught in the fast currents?

There are three types of landings at the end of a hot air balloon flight. The standing landing, the fast wind landing (with overturning) and an emergency landing.
99.9% of balloon landings are standing or flipping. Both are safe and a normal part of hot air ballooning.

Emergency landings occur only if the risk of contact with power lines is imminent, if a weather anomaly is recorded or if there is a problem with the mechanical equipment.
Hot air balloons that land on a fast wind do so safely, although the experience of flipping is memorable and quite entertaining. But it is crucial that the passengers listen to the safety briefing and the pilot's instructions before the landing sequence, in case of a fast wind landing.

Standard rollover landings occur when the surface wind speed is 15-30 km/h. Fast wind landings will be winds over 30 km/h. These landings are generally caused by unpredictable winds, which appear after storms hundreds of km away or after weather anomalies.

Hot air balloon pilots are trained to spot problems, while the ground team is trained to monitor weather stations around the area to alert pilots to significant changes.

The biggest threat to balloons and other flying devices are power cables

Collision with power cables is extremely rare (contact with such a cable occurs very few times a year all over the world). In the rare case that a balloon comes into contact with a power line, in 95% of the situations the balloon pilots execute the correct emergency procedure and no passenger is injured.

Pilots who fly in the same area always know where most of the power lines are and avoid them successfully. Most incidents with live wires happen to balloon pilots who are unfamiliar with a flight location.
When the pilots do the safety briefing, they will cover a multitude of topics and mention that it is everyone's job to look for power cables (especially if the balloon descends less than 150 meters from the ground). These extra pairs of eyes contribute to keeping the balloon flights safe.

Are you afraid of heights? Do not worry!

One of the most common phobias is acrophobia, meaning the fear of heights. Over 25% of people around the world have this fear.
What is fascinating is that even those with an extreme fear of heights feel very good in the hot air balloon. It sounds strange and yet it is proven... In a recent study among hot air balloon pilots, it was found that the majority of balloon pilots are afraid of heights. They don't like to be on steps, roofs or balconies. Surprisingly, however, the fear does not appear when they are hundreds of meters above the ground, in a woven basket.

Hot air balloons are simple machines with very few moving parts

Compared to other types of aircraft, hot air balloons are simple machines. Airplanes have numerous pieces of electronic equipment and thousands of moving parts that can affect flight. Hot air balloons, on the other hand, are very simple. They have only three parts: the basket or gondola (the nacelle), the fuel and combustion system (burner, gas cylinders) and the tire.

The nacelle of the balloon starts from a steel frame and steel cables. Wicker is interwoven between the steel parts to create the basket. Why is wicker used? Because it is flexible and light. The steel cables are connected to the burner frame and the balloon cables with steel carabiners. The propane burning system is very simple and as for the fuel, most balloons have 40-80 gallons of propane stored in steel cylinders.

What happens if there are problems with the equipment?

First of all, it is extremely rare for something like this to happen with a balloon.
Secondly, in situations where significant problems arise for propulsion, all aircraft have what is called a glide ratio.

Balloons have a very slow one, because there is an opening at the bottom of the balloon tire that turns the balloon into a parachute. In the rare case of an equipment problem, the balloon will float slowly towards the ground. The terminal speed of a hot air balloon is slower than that of a World War II parachute. It would be a difficult landing, but everyone would be safe.

Those who go with the balloon are obsessed with safety

One thing hot air balloon enthusiasts do better than any other aviation community is learn from each other. All hot air balloon pilots participate in local and national safety seminars, face to face or online.
In conclusion, flying with a hot air balloon is safe and not at all scary. The only thing that can make it dangerous are people who don't take safety seriously.