Hot Air Balloon Festival

There is something so awe-inspiring about hot air balloons for both adults and kids. The way they float so majestically through the sky with no electrics or complicated technology keeping them going. A ride on one is a real adventure. Since there is not a precise way of controlling the route you take, it is a liberating yet relaxing way to travel. It wouldn’t be the best method if you needed to get somewhere in a hurry. You may find yourself on the other end of town. It would also be a nightmare to park. But for a bucket list activity, this is an exciting activity. It will be something different to do or watch with the family on the weekend. Since they are so exciting, it would be interesting to understand how hot air balloons work.

You may decide to make it a family or group outing. During the trip, either your kids or others in the group may wonder, How Do Hot Air Balloons Work? The Kid On the Go will assist you with providing them with answers.

How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?

Close-Up View of Burner for Hot Air Balloon
Close-Up View of Burner for Hot Air Balloon

You may have been on a hot air balloon, watched them in the sky, or seen them on TV and movies but have no understanding of how they work. After all, how does something that giant float in the sky? How do you steer or get it to come back down to ground level? We answer these questions and we will also provide you with some fun facts about Hot Air Balloons.

The Basic Scientific Principle of How Hot Air Balloons Work

Burner Putting Hot Air In a Balloon
Burner Putting Hot Air In A Hot Air Balloon

Hot air balloons are based on the basic scientific principle of warm air rising in cool air. By heating the inside of the balloon with a burner, it means that it becomes lighter than the colder air outside. This will cause the balloon to float. The more hot air is pumped into the balloon, the higher it goes. When it is allowed to cool, this is when it lowers down. Hot air balloons work to heat the air with a burner that is positioned underneath the open neck of the balloon.

How does a hot air balloon initially get off the ground?

Hot Air Balloon Setup and Take-Off

To get a hot air balloon off the ground in the first place is one of the hardest parts of the ride. It involves quite a bit of hard work. As a spectator, this is fun to watch. You can get to see just how the science behind how a hot air balloon works.

Firstly the crew will need to check the weather conditions aren’t too windy. Then they will find a suitable point to launch the balloon. When the balloon has been laid out, they will begin to inflate it with high-powered fans. At that time, you can get a good look into the inside of the balloon. Once enough air has been added, the team will then switch on the burner. The burner will build pressure inside the balloon and cause it to inflate. When enough hot air is inside the balloon, it will soon be able to lift the basket up. Then it will be ready for the pilot to jump on board. The crew will hold the basket down so passengers can climb onboard, and it is ready to go!

How does a hot air balloon change direction?

Hot Air Balloon Flying In The Air
Flying In the Air

When in the air, the hot air balloon is driven by the direction of the wind. They cannot be steered in the same way as other transport methods as the direction of the wind changes at different altitudes. Instead, pilots utilize the wind and add in more or less hot air to catch the wind direction at different heights. There are also turning vents in the side of the balloon, which enables them to rotate a full 360 degrees giving you a panoramic view of the whole world below you.

How does a hot air balloon land?

Hot Air Balloon Landing

Throughout your hot air balloon ride, the pilot will be in touch with crew on the ground. The ground crew will follow the balloon in their vehicle. They will assist with the pilot with selecting a suitable landing site for the balloon. The spot will be safe from obstructions such as power lines. While the pilot will aim for a smooth landing, it can be a bit bumpy (particularly if it’s caught by a gust of wind). However, a bumpy landing is still safe and completely normal! The crew will then help everyone get out of the basket. They will also assist in rolling the balloon back up to be packed away ready for the next ride.

Test it Out and Make Your Own Hot Air Balloon At Home

Homemade Hot Air Balloon Experiment from Wikihow

If you love learning about, reading about, and watching videos of hot air balloons, then why not take this one step further and learn how to make one? A great DIY science project, you can learn in real time just how air density can made something float and how amazing the science is behind a hot air balloon. Whenever you do a science experiment at home it is important to get adult supervision and ensure there are no flammable liquids or objects nearby. You will need to use open flames to make it work and this can be dangerous if children aren’t watched while using them.

  • Supplies Needed
    • 1 x large plastic bag (a laundry bag is a good idea, but you will need to seal up the hole at the top where the hanger goes)
    • 1 Sheet of Aluminum Foil
    • 2-4 x candles (birthday candles work well)
    • 1 x Sturdy Wire or Straws
    • 1 x Lighter or Matches

The process is simple and easy and you can view the whole method to creating your own hot air balloon here: The end result is shown above.

Fun Facts About Hot Air Balloons?

Now that we understand how hot air balloons work, let’s discuss some interesting things about them.

First Hot Air Balloon Invented By Brothers

Hot Air Balloon Inventors - Jacquest Etienne Montgolfier and Joseph Michel Montgolfier
Hot Air Balloon invented by Brothers
Jacques Etienne Montgolfier and Joseph Michel Montgolfier

The hot air balloon was first invented by two bothers – Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier and Joseph Michel Montgolfier in France. Joseph had always liked to invent things and became interested in why embers rose up in fires and the gas that caused this to happen. He began to experiment in different ways to see how this effect could be replicated. After many attempts, the two brothers settled on the first hot air balloon design which was a globe-shaped balloon made out of sackcloth and paper that was held together with cord and buttons.

Celebrate Balloon Ride With Champagne

Tradition to Celebrate Hot Air Balloon Ride With Champagne
Tradition to Celebrate Balloon Ride With Champagne

Once you have finished a hot air balloon ride, it is customary to celebrate! If you are of age, it is customary to crack open the fizz and enjoy a toast. This tradition comes back from the French, who used to originally toast with champagne. They would bring the champagne with them to compensate any angry farmers who didn’t like the fact that balloons had landed in their field.

A Simple Way Pilots Check Wind Conditions

One of the ways hot air balloon pilots check the weather is okay for a flight is to release a piball, which is short for a pilot balloon. This is a balloon filled with helium that can show them which direction the balloon will travel and how to maneuver when they are airborne. If it will send you to prohibited or dangerous air space, then they will have to find somewhere new to take off from.

The Very First Hot Air Balloon Passengers Were Not Human

Owl on Hot Air Ballon
Owl Design on Hot Air Balloon

The first hot air balloon was set off in 1783 and was designed to fly over the French court in Versailles, Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette. Rather than send humans on the flight, a sheep, a rooster, and a duck were the very first passengers. The sheep (called Montauciel which means to “climb to the sky”, was used as it was thought to be similar to humans and show the effects that the change in altitude would have, and the bids were designed to act as a control. The balloon flew for eight minutes and traveled eight miles before landing safely.

In 1808 There Was A Hot Air Balloon Duel

Happy Face Hot Air Balloon
Happy Face Design on Hot Air Balloon

In the year of 1808, two men in France were both after the heart of the same women, the celebrated opera dancer Mademoiselle Tirevit. In order to settle it, they decided to partake in a hot air balloon duel. Crowds gathered to watch and they witnessed as the two men pulled out blunderbuss guns and attempted to shoot at each other’s balloon’s. One managed to puncture the balloon and cause it to crash to the ground, whereas the other landed unscathed.

New Mexico Hosts the Largest Hot Air Balloon Festival In The World

A Typical Hot Air Balloon Festival
A typical Festival

There are now a number of hot air balloon festivals that take place around the world, but the bigges one is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. It first started in 1972 where it launched 13 hot air balloons and nowadays offers the chance to see 700 balloons in nine days. The balloons come in all shapes and sizes from special themes to animal shapes and you can also witness a range of different activities and competitions. It’s a great way to get your hot air balloon fix and capture some breathtaking photographs too!


Kids Riding in Hot Air Balloon
Kids In Hot Air Balloon

Hot air balloons are fantastic inventions and now that you know some more about the science about them, and how to make one yourself. There are many places you can go on a hot air balloon around the USA and worldwide, so why not add it to your list of things to do?

There are also Balloon Festivals where you can watch Hot Air Balloons. Some of the upcoming places to view Hot Air Balloons Festival are listed below.


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