Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hot air balloon?

 A Hot-Air Balloon consists of three main components: the envelope which is the big fabric bag that most people think of when talking about balloons; the basket, where the pilot and passengers stand during the flight; and, finally, the burner that heats the air to make the balloon fly. The burner does the same job in a balloon that the engine does in the family car.

What is the balloon made from?

The envelope is made out of rip-stop nylon, similar to that used in parachutes. The fabric has a special coating to keep the hot air from escaping. The basket is handwoven wicker, as a nod to tradition. Wicker is universally preferred by manufacturers because, even today, wicker provides the best combination of any material available: it is both lightweight and durable.

What type of fuel is used by the burner?

The burner uses propane, the same fuel that many people use to heat their homes. We typically carry approximately 30 gallons of propane (more in competition) and will burn between 15 and 20 gallons on a typical flight.

Do you need a license to fly a balloon?

 Yes. Hot-Air Balloons are federally licensed aircraft and, as such, require a pilot’s license to operate. For more information, check out the “learn to fly” page!

When do balloons fly?

For safety reasons, it is best to fly within two hours after sunrise and two hours prior to sunset.

How long does the ride last?

 The ride lasts approximately one hour. The length of the ride can vary with each flight, depending upon availability of landing spots, fuel consumption and other factors.

Where do you launch?

We can launch virtually anywhere that there is a large enough open area to inflate the balloon, provided we have permission to use the property. Our launch location is determined by the direction of the wind. Part of our flight planning involves making sure the our potential flight path doesn’t take us into restricted areas.

Where do you land?

Wherever the wind takes us – that’s part of the joy of ballooning! We typically know the rough direction that we will travel, be we literally don’t know exactly where we will land until we get there. So, the flights are always different!

Just like any profession, not all hot air balloon operators are the same! How can you be sure your operator is professional? Ask questions!

Do your research on the operator:

-Ask for the registration number of the balloon you will be flying in and then look up that number on the FAA Aircraft Registry Database site. Check to see that the registration certificate isn’t expired.

-Ask the operator when the last annual or 100 hour inspection was completed.

-Ask the operator when the pilot’s last Flight Review was completed.

-Ask the operator if their pilots participate in the FAA Safety Team WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program – when was their last proficiency flight?

Sometimes longevity doesn’t always equal more experience or safety. Ask the operator if they attend a yearly continuing education seminar or what they do to keep their knowledge up to date. If the response isn’t acceptable, find a new operator!


The Balloon Training Academy does not provide technical or legal advice. Content on this page is for general information and discussion only, and is not a full analysis of the matters stated herein. The information provided may not be applicable in all situations, and readers should always seek specific advice from the Federal Aviation Administration and/or appropriate technical and legal experts (including the most current applicable guidelines) before taking any action with respect to any matters discussed herein.