Although flying a hot air balloon is no easy task, these beautiful aircraft have quite a simple design and it only takes three components to get our hot air balloons floating over Italy.
To trap the hot air that makes a hot air balloon float, you will need an airtight envelope or balloon.
This pouch is made of a strong, lightweight material with a high melting temperature, such as Nylon. During manufacturing, the fabric is cut into long, vertical sections known as gores that are sewn together securely.
At the top of the envelope, known as the crown, you’ll find the parachute valve. This vent is connected to a metal crown ring with vent lines, which converge in a control line that runs to the basket. When the pilot pulls on the control line, the vent opens and releases hot air, causing the balloon to descend. Some hot air balloons also have turning vents, which are positioned on the side of the envelope and allow the pilot to rotate the balloon clockwise or anticlockwise.
The opening at the bottom of the envelope is known as the mouth. Leading in to the mouth, and positioned above the burners, is the throat or scoop. This reinforced fireproof fabric channel is designed to withstand the heat of the flames from the burners and protect them from the wind during the flight.
Hot air balloons don’t have engines, so they need other mechanisms to make them fly; that’s what the burner is for.
The burner is made up of liquid propane gas tanks, a blast valve and pilot light. When the pilot pulls the blast valve, liquid propane mixes with oxygen, passes the pilot light and ignites. This heats the air and inflates the balloon.
To help the pilot aim the flame directly into the mouth and avoid overheating the envelope fabric, the burner is placed on a gimbal. This device keeps the burner level regardless of how much the balloon is moving or swaying.
The basket is an extremely important part of the hot air balloon design, as it carries the passengers – and the burners. It is connected to the envelope by metal cables that are fed through looped load tapes, which are structural features sewn into the envelope during the manufacturing process.
Traditional hot air balloon baskets were woven entirely from wicker or rattan. These materials were chosen because of their lightness and durability. Today, baskets are constructed with reinforced steel frames. Wicker remains the material of choice to clad the basket, as it is flexible and helps absorb some of the impact when the balloon lands.
Hot air balloon baskets can hold anything from two to 24 passengers. They’re usually rectangular and split into compartments to ensure everyone on board gets a fantastic view of the scenery.
Hot air balloons might have a simple design, but that doesn’t take anything away from the joy they’ll bring you as you float through the sky. Book your ride with Balloon Adventures Italy to get a close up of these amazing airships.