Hot Air Balloon Statistics [Total Accidents, Crashes, and Deaths]
More and more people are attracted to the idea of taking a hot air balloon to fly high above the clouds. While this feat wasn't possible centuries ago, the modern hot air balloon is a staple bucket list item for many people.
Most commonly, we only get aerial experience onboard a (usually boring) airplane. The hot air balloon is an innovation that has been made to get people up to the sky in perfect 360-view.
The history of hot air balloons dates back to the 18th Century when the Chinese invented them to send messages to war troops. Today, hot air balloon rides have become a tourist and marketing attraction.
- 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.
While generally safe, some hot air balloon crashes have 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.
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
Considering that hot air balloons do not have steering wheels and only use wind direction for speed, these accidents can be attributed to many different factors.
Wind direction can cause hot air balloons to go off course. In harsh weather conditions, hot air balloons do not stand a chance. Fortunately, this hazard can be avoided by careful planning of flight schedules and weather mapping.
Particularly tall objects and structures often cause major problems during hot air ballooning. Pointy objects like wind vanes, skyscrapers, and trees pose hazards for hot air balloon flights.
The most dangerous obstacle for hot air balloons in modern times are power lines. Complications from hot air balloons hitting power lines have caused 24 fatalities in the U.S. recently.
Over the years, manufacturers have improved the quality of hot air balloon manufacturing. Today, balloons undergo multiple tests in order to check their durability and safety in different conditions. Manufacturers also make preventive efforts to minimize future incidents and injuries.
Read our post to learn how safe hot air balloons are.
Hot air balloon manufacturers produce hot air balloons based on quality, design, and application. 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.
The largest manufacturers in the world produce about 80 to 120 hot air balloons each year. Aerostar International used to be the largest producer of hot air balloons in the U.S. In 2007, the company ceased production, though 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 has decreased recently. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the production of hot air balloons has been slowed down or postponed. Balloon were also affected by the pandemic.
Hot air balloon prices can be sky-high, depending on capacity and manufacturer. If you’re looking to buy one, consider carefully what you want to use your hot air balloon for.
A two-person hot air balloon that holds a pilot and a passenger costs around $22,000.
Larger balloons that can carry four passengers and a pilot cost about $35,000 to $45,000. This price range can increase depending on the number of its burners, additional capacity (max at eight, including the pilot), and fuel tanks.
You can also purchase a used hot air balloon for a cheaper price though they are generally 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.
Hot air ballooning is considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The unique experience of soaring above the clouds with 360 views is enticing— but exactly how much will it cost?
An average hot air balloon ride will cost you at around $150-$200 per person depending on the location and company providing the ride. 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, visit the ride provider's website and contact them for availability and booking.
Hot air balloon festivals have been very popular among all sorts of people looking for thrill and adventure. Festivals generally 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 quite the 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 happens at the same time as the month-long Kentucky Derby Festival.
Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival
Located in Foley, Alabama, the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival allows folks an up-close look at the balloons. A chosen few will be able to ride in one and witness the spectacular shorelines from a bird's-eye view.
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.
If you’re a first-time flyer, the thought of being in a basket that high above land is understandably a little scary. Luckily, training and workshops are usually required before passengers are allowed to be boarded, and 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 wind during the ride.