What Are The Parts of a Hot Air Balloon?
While most of us have seen a hot air balloon at one point or another, few people know exactly what parts make up this iconic vehicle. Let's take a closer look at the three main parts of a hot air balloon and how they work together to create one amazing flying machine.
Parts of a Hot Air Balloon
The first part of a hot air balloon is the envelope. You can think of this as the "balloon" part of the vehicle.
The envelope, also known as the canopy or kapok, encloses all other parts and provides lift for flight. It has several different layers which serve different purposes:
- Inner liner - this thin layer protects passengers from getting burned by embers that escape from the burner during flight
- Beaded netting or skirt - holds in heated air after it leaves the burners, creating an inflatable shape
- Outer shell – this outermost layer prevents heat loss while providing protection against environmental factors such as water and ultraviolet light damage
Envelopes are typically made of nylon and coated with a fireproof material such as Kevlar or Nomex. This ensures that if a fire does break out, it will not spread quickly or burn through the envelope.
The top of the balloon is held in place by a hoop of flexible fabric called the crown. This part is often adorned with distinctive designs and colors, which add to the beauty of a hot air balloon.
The second part of a hot air balloon is the basket or gondola. This is where passengers sit. Supplies for the hot air balloon are also stored here.
Typically, hot air balloon baskets are made of steel or aluminum alloy to ensure that they are lightweight while still being able to hold large numbers of passengers.
The parts of a gondola include:
- Pilot seat – this is where the pilot sits to control the direction of flight.
- Passenger seats – these are used to transport people sitting down.
- Supply area - this is where supplies or luggage can be stored during flight.
- Fuel tanks - these tanks carry propane or natural gas which is used to power the burners. The number of fuel tanks a hot air balloon has will vary depending on size, but most have at least two.
- Sand Bags - prevents tipping over and maintains balance under certain weather conditions.
Lastly, the third part of a hot air balloon is its burners. Without a way to heat up the air inside of the envelope, a hot air balloon wouldn't fly.
The parts of a burner include:
- Fuel container - this is where propane or natural gas are stored during flight.
- Ignition switch – the pilot uses this switch to start the burner.
- Valve – this part controls how much propane enters the chamber.
- Chamber - air is forced through here, where it is heated and released to create a strong burst of hot air.
- Combustion chamber – this part ensures that the fuel does not explode, but instead burns in a controlled way.
Burner parts are typically made out of stainless steel to prevent rust from forming due to the humidity and rain that can get trapped inside of the basket during flight.
Usually, the burner or burners point directly into the mouth of the envelope to ensure that hot air is released as quickly as possible.
On average, most burners produce around 400,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) of heat. This is equivalent to around 148,000 watts of energy!