Hot Air Balloon Statistics [Total Accidents, Crashes, and Deaths]

Hot Air Balloon Statistics

More and more people are drawn to taking to the skies and seeing what it’s like to be above the clouds. While this feat wasn't possible centuries ago, the modern hot air balloon gives us a huge rise in building aircraft.

Most commonly, we only get aerial experience onboard an airplane, so this somehow defeats the purpose. Because of this, another innovation has been made to get people up to the sky in perfect 360-view: hot air balloons.

The real history of hot air balloons dates back to the 18th Century when the Chinese invented them to send messages to war troops. Today, it has become a tourist and marketing attraction.

Hot Air Balloon Crash Statistics

  • The data from Pubmed.gov states that a total of 495 hot air balloon crashes were reported in the U.S. from the year 1964 to 1995.
  • The most frequent crashes were recorded during 1984-1988, with 138 in total. During the five-year period, a staggering 51% of the crashes involved recreational flights, while paid rides only incurred 28%.
  • There has been a significant decline in crashes following the end of the 20th century. From 2000 through 2011, a total of 164 crashes were recorded. 86 of these crashes belong to data from 2000-2004.
  • Three crashes were recorded from May of 2014 until June of 2021.

Hot Air Balloon Death Statistics

Some hot air balloon crashes lead to devastating consequences, including loss of life.

  • During the 31-year period of 1964-1995, the crashes involved 1,533 people including passengers, pilots, and student pilots alike. A total of 92 fatalities were listed during that time.
  • Six fatalities belong to the periods 1984-1988.
  • During 2000-2011, only five people were killed in crashes. Four of these fatalities occurred between 2000-2004.
  • Years 2014 to 2021 saw a spike in ballooning tragedies, killing 24 people.

Hot Air Balloon Accident Statistics

From 1964 through 2011, a total of 475 persons were considered seriously injured during hard landings. Most injuries were fractures specifically to the lower extremities. Below is the breakdown.

  • 1964-1995: 384
  • 2000-2011: 91
  • 2012-Present: Zero

Hot Air Balloon Hazards

Considering that hot air balloons do not have steering wheels and only use wind direction for speed, a lot of factors can be pointed out as causes of these misadventures.

Weather

Wind direction can cause hot air balloons to go off course. In harsh weather conditions, hot air balloons do not stand a chance, so flying in the storm is a definite no. Fortunately, this hazard can be avoided by careful planning of flight schedules and weather mapping.

Objects

Objects in higher grounds oftentimes cause major problems during hot air ballooning. Pointy objects like wind vanes, skyscrapers, and trees cause hazards. Additionally, power lines have become modern hazards in hot air balloon flights. They are by far the most dangerous obstacle and have caused 24 fatalities in the U.S. recently.

Safety in Hot Air Ballooning

Over the course of years, manufacturers have been improving greatly in producing quality hot air balloons. Today, balloons undergo multiple tests in order to check their vulnerability in certain conditions. Manufacturers also ensure preventive efforts to minimize future incidents and injuries.

Read our post to learn how safe hot air balloons are.

Top Manufacturers

Hot air balloon manufacturers produce hot air balloons based on quality, design, and application. Whether they’re used for for tourism, marketing, or competition, these are five of the top manufacturers in the United States:

  • Firefly Balloons
  • Aerostar International
  • Head Balloons Inc.
  • National Ballooning Ltd.
  • Avian Balloon Corporation

Every year, these manufacturers participate in hot air balloon competitions to showcase their unique and vibrant balloons.

Hot Air Balloons Made So Far

The largest manufacturers in the world produce about 80 to 120 hot air balloons each year. Aerostar International made the largest production in the U.S. alone. In 2007, the company ceased making more. However, they still remain active in the hot air balloon community. The oldest manufacturers come from Albuquerque in New Mexico.

The demand for hot air balloon flights is considerably fluid. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, most productions of hot air balloons were either slowed down or postponed. Balloon rides across the region were also affected.

Cost of Hot Air Balloons

Hot air balloon prices can be sky-high, depending on capacity and manufacturer. If you’re looking to buy one, consider checking your preference first.

A two-person hot air balloon costs around $22,000. This is an average-size type of hot air balloon, which includes a pilot and a passenger.

Larger balloons cost at about $35,000 to $45,000. Due to its large size, this type of hot air balloon can carry four passengers and a pilot. This price range can increase depending on the number of its burners, additional capacity (max at eight, including the pilot), and fuel tanks.

On the other hand, used hot air balloons are cheaper in price but are not as durable. You can purchase one at around $10,000 and spend another $5,000 in renovations to ensure safety and longevity.

Read our detailed post, for more information on hot air balloon costs.

It’s important to have a durable hot air balloon to prevent accidents. Over time, hot air ballooning has received some scrutiny due to crashes. Let’s look at the statistics.

Are Hot Air Balloon Rides Expensive?

Hot air ballooning is considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The feeling of being above the ground gives people excitement — but exactly how much will you spend to experience the famous ride?

An average hot air balloon ride will cost you at around $150-$200 per person. Prices also vary in location and company of choice. Check out price listings (subject to changes) of companies below.

  • Rainbow Ryders, Arizona: $170
  • Sonoma Ballooning Adventures: $220
  • Napa Valley Balloons: $239
  • U-Ken-Do Ballooning, Northern Vermont: $275
  • Lake Tahoe Balloons: $300

Consider checking out our database of hot air balloon rides. We've aggregated the best hot air balloon ride companies based on location and reviews. For the most accurate pricing, consider visiting the ride provider's website and contacting them for availability and booking.

Popular Hot Air Balloon Festivals

Hot air balloon festivals have been very popular among all sorts of people looking for thrill and adventure. Festivals begin in late October, but a few festivals are spread throughout the year. These festivals usually start by simultaneously flying a number of hot air balloons, which is an amazing sight to see.

Read our post for more hot air balloon facts.

BB&T Great BalloonFest

One of the highlights of this festival is that during nighttime, the pilots fire the burners of their earthbound balloons in sync with the music. This celebration is in line with the month-long Kentucky Derby Festival.

Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival

Located in Foley, Alabama, the festival allows volunteers for an up-close look at the balloons. Aside from that, a chosen few will be able to ride in and witness the spectacular shorelines.

Quechee Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival

If you wish to witness an aerial view of the 50-meter-deep Quechee Gorge in Vermont, then this festival is the one for you. The festival also features the craft and tradition of hot air ballooning.

Flying Safely

If you’re a first-time flyer, we understand the fear you’re getting. Training and workshops are usually primary requirements before passengers are allowed to be boarded. Additionally, pilots are experienced enough to guide you in this adventure. To be fully safe, avoid wearing loose accessories like caps and sunglasses as these may be snatched by gusts of winds during the ride.

Sources

  1. https://napavalleyballoons.com/hot-air-balloon-facts.php
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9533500/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8117223/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16708537/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24279231/
  6. https://www.thecoldwire.com/how-much-does-a-hot-air-balloon-cost/
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_air_ballooning
  8. https://outdoortroop.com/average-cost-of-a-hot-air-balloon-ride-with-31-examples/
  9. https://www.visittheusa.com/experience/5-spectacular-balloon-festivals-united-states