Hot air balloons are extremely safe, they won't tear in flight, they won't catch fire and they won't pop. The basket with empty or full fuel tanks will float. The entire system weighs approximately 800 pounds with full fuel tanks.
Manufacturer - Our balloon is a brand-new 2022 Lindstrand that features a door basket that makes for easy entering and exiting the basket.
Envelope - The envelope is the balloon itself, the colored part. Balloon envelopes are categorized by size. The larger the balloon the more weight it can carry. Our envelope is 105,000 ft.³ and is equipped with two propane burners which put out 25 million BTUs each. In basic terms, we can put 105,000 basketballs inside the envelope of the equivalent of 22 18-wheelers.
The envelope is made of rip-stop nylon. This size envelope weighs 303 pounds.
Parachute Valve - At the top of the balloon is what we call a parachute valve. Without this, there would be a large hole at the top. While there still is a large hole this parachute valve covers that hole and keeps it in place during the flight due to the pressure inside the envelope. Upon landing the pilot will pull a red rope called the red line, which is attached to a series of pulleys and attaches to the parachute valve. By pulling this rope the top will open letting heat out and therefore the balloon will lose altitude and land.
The top of the balloon features GPS coordinates of a mountaintop in Austria where Jason the pilot and his now wife and crew chief Kay got engaged in January 2020.
Along with my wife Kay, our crew also consists of my 2 daughters Shelby and Marlee.
Burners - The burners are the brakes and gas pedals of the balloon. We turn on the burners to ascend and we will also use the burners to slow us down from a decent. Our balloon has 2 burners that produce about 25 million BTUs each. Convert that to horsepower and that would be approximately 11,000 of horsepower. Each burner is a redundant system, meaning each burner has a backup burner inside. It's like having 4 engines on an airplane. This is one reason ballooning is the safest form of travel.
The chances of all 4 engines on an airplane failing are next to impossible. The heat from each burner can reach over 3,000 degrees. Don't worry though, the nylon will not catch fire and the balloon is designed so the flame is directed up into the balloon and away from the fabric.
Fuel Source - Balloons use propane just like you use on your gas grill. Propane is extremely cold and has a boiling point of negative 44 degrees. The propane is carried in aluminum tanks inside the basket. Our balloon carries 40 gallons of propane during a flight typically using 18-24 gallons on an average flight.
The Basket - Balloon baskets are made from wicker. Wicker is lightweight, durable, and absorbs the shock on landing.