How Dangerous Is Hot Air Ballooning?

hot air balloon how dangerous

Hot air ballooning is viewed as a relaxing and romantic activity. However, it can be risky, as evidenced by the statistics. But how dangerous is hot air ballooning? The accidents often result in serious injuries or even death.

From 2000 to June 2016, only 21 hot air balloon accidents were reported in the US. So, the chance of facing danger in a hot air balloon is relatively low. While the overall number of casualties is low, they often result in serious injuries or death. Keep reading for more details!

How Dangerous Is Hot Air Ballooning? (Stats)

Although hot air ballooning is considered a relatively safe activity, some risks remain. Several factors contribute to the high accident rate, including that balloons are susceptible to weather conditions and can be challenging to control.

Despite the risks, hot air ballooning is still popular, and many people feel the experience is worth the risk. Let's look at the stats:

Accident Stats

There were 475 persons considered seriously injured from 1964 to 2011. Here's a breakdown:

  • 384 people from 1964 to 1995
  • 91 people from 2000 to 2011
  • Zero from 2012 till now

Crash Stats

  • From 1964 to 1995, there were 495 hot air balloon crashes in the United States, as states.
  • From 1984-1988 there has a high frequency of crashes (138). In it, 51% of crashes are from recreational flights, while 28% were from paid rides.
  • Since the 20th century's end, there has been a severe decline in crashes. There were 86 crashes from 2000-2004 while 164 crashes from 2000 to 2011.
  • Only three crashes are recorded from May 2014 to June 2021.

Death Stats

  • From 1964-1995 92 fatalities were listed while 1533 individuals were involved in crashes.
  • There were six fatalities from 1984-1988
  • Four fatalities occurred from 2000-2004, while five deaths were recorded from 2000-2011.
  • A spike in fatalities spiked to 24 from 2014 to 2021.

What Does Decades of Data Indicate?

Mostly Hot Air Balloon rides are considered safer than cars. Going by NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) stats from 2002 to 2016 with hot air ballooning rides, only 16 deaths happened, making one fatality each year. And there are 775 recorded hot air balloon flight deaths from 1964 to 2022.

Do you know FAA or Federal Aviation Administration regulates hot air balloons like other aircraft? After every 100 flight hours, the balloons are inspected, while after every two years, pilots must repass the flight test to be certified as hot air balloon pilots.

Apart from these regulations, the balloons are manufactured with nylon made from a particular tear-resistant fabric. The fabric is more durable and long-lasting. Still, bad weather conditions are the primary cause of most hot air balloon accidents. 

Lightning is also one of the dangers associated with hot air ballooning. Meanwhile, the balloon's directions are at the wind's mercy. The good news is that pilots are trained to keenly observe weather and fly only when there's no wind factor.

But being at the mercy of the wind is one of the reasons hot air ballooning is a relatively dangerous activity. Still, it's rare to see air balloon accidents in bad weather conditions.

Hot Air Balloon Notable Mishaps and Accidents

The hot air balloon industry has come a long way in recent years to make the activity as safe as possible. However, there are still some notable mishaps and accidents that have occurred.

The Texas Tragedy:

On July 30, 2016, a hot air balloon carrying 16 people crashed near Texas. All the passengers and the pilot were killed in the accident.

The accident has many controversies, but the exact cause is the pilot. Apart from it, the weather was terrible that day, and the balloon was not supposed to fly. The pilot had a bad day and was taking seven different medications.

The Luxor, Egypt Crash:

This accident is the deadliest crash in hot air ballooning history. When the balloon was 10 feet in the air, it caught on fire and quickly descended, while the pilot and passengers jumped out.

Meanwhile, the crew members could not help the basket as they rushed to help the pilot. The other passengers tried jumping from 100 feet, and all seven died. Later, the maintenance engineer and pilot were arrested for their negligence.

Ljubljana Marshes 2012:

This accident took place due to an unexpected thunderstorm that hit Slovenia out of nowhere. The wind blew the balloon away, and the pilot was forced to take an emergency landing.

In this accident, six of the thirty-two passengers got killed, and the pilot was injured. Afterward, Slovenia passed strict hot air balloon flights.

Carterton 2012:

This was another accident caused due to a sudden change in the weather. The hot air balloon ended up colliding with another balloon basket.

This resulted in tearing up the lower balloon envelope, and all eleven passengers on the balloon ended up dead. Later, the upper balloon pilot got two years sentence in prison, but later, the ruling was overturned on an appeal. Are you aware of the time to become a hot air balloon pilot?

But How Safe Is Hot Air Balloon Traveling?

Despite the hot air balloon crashes, it is considered a safe activity. The chances of getting killed in a hot air balloon are pretty low. And if you look at the stats over the years, it has only gotten safer.

When it comes to hot air ballooning, most accidents are caused by human error. For example, a pilot might not check the weather conditions before taking off or might not properly secure the balloon before takeoff.

Still, hot air ballooning is considered a relatively safe activity. And, with the proper safety precautions, the chance of an accident is even lower.

So, if you plan to overcome your fear and go on a hot air balloon ride, don't worry too much about the safety. Just follow the rules and regulations, and you will be fine.

Hot Air Ballooning: The Risks vs. the Rewards

The rewards often outweigh the risks of hot air ballooning. The experience of air floating in a hot balloon is unlike any other. For many, it's a bucket list item. Here's a quick overview of the risks and rewards of hot air ballooning.


  • The weather conditions can be unpredictable and dangerous.
  • There have been some notable accidents and mishaps.
  • The FAA regulates the activity, which imposes strict rules and regulations.


  • The experience is unlike any other.
  • It's a fantastic mode to see the world from a different perspective.
  • It's relatively safe when compared to other activities.
  • The whole journey is enjoyable, from start to finish.

So, should you take the risk and go hot air ballooning? Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Weigh the risks and rewards if you consider going on a hot air balloon ride. And, if you do decide to go ahead with it, follow the rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Final Thoughts

Hot air ballooning is safe when the proper safety precautions are taken. The chance of an accident is relatively low, and the experience is unlike any other. If you're considering going on a hot air balloon ride, weigh the risks and rewards to make the best decision. Now let's look at how much shall you tip for an air balloon ride, the total air balloon ride length, and what happens while preparing for a ride.