How Balloons Work
The winds have welcomed you with softness. The sun has warmed you with it's hands. You have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in laughter and gentley set you back into the loving arms of mother earth. - The Balloonist Prayer
Flying in a hot-air balloon is perhaps one of the most unique and unusual methods of travel that graces our world.
Not only is it the oldest form of manned flght, but it might also be one of the most misunderstood methods as well.
For those who are curious, we will discuss a little about how a hot air balloon, and ballooning in general, work to help explain this unique and exciting sport.
Mechanics of Flight
To understand ballooning, we must first understand some physics of why hot air balloons fly in the first place.
Hot air balloons fly because hot air rises above colder air. It does this because hot-air is less dense and lighter than colder air and as a result has the tendency to move up through the atmosphere.
The same principal applies to water and is similar to the reason boats float. A boat is less dense than the water it displaces. A balloon similarly is lighter than the air it is displacing so, it too, floats atop a fluid. In this case the air all around us.
By trapping air in the envelope and then artifically generating heat with a propane burner, a balloon is able to generate this lift.