How High Do Hot Air Balloons Fly?

Understanding hot air balloons and how they fly can make your trip even more enjoyable. Some people like the thought of going high, while others may feel a little afraid of going to such extremes in nothing more than a basket.

In our guide, you can find out more of the heights these balloons reach, why they fly at such levels, and the distance you are likely to travel on a commercial balloon trip. Most of all, you will find the answer to the question, are hot air balloons safe.

hot air balloons and sunset

How high do hot air balloons go?

Vijaypat Singhania, an Indian businessman, set the record by flying up to 21,290 m (69,852 ft) above sea level. He did this in his huge 160 feet tall balloon that contained a pressurized cabin in his world record flight in 2005 from Mumbai, India, to Panchale. (Read How Long Can A Hot Air Balloon Stay In The Air)

A company called World View aims to develop a hot-air balloon and pressurized capsule to take passengers over 30,000 feet above the Earth to the edge of space. At this height, passengers can see the Earth’s curvature, like how astronauts can from the International Space Station.

The company has tested the special balloon equipment yet is still to announce when the first high altitude hot-air balloon flights will be open to paying passengers.

hot air balloons above mountain

What is the maximum altitude of a Hot-Air balloon?

The altitude record was set by a manned hot-air balloon at 41,424 meters and achieved by Alan Eustace, a senior vice president with Google. Once he reached this height, he then parachuted back to earth.

Hot Air Balloons operate work through the basic principles of gravity and heat transfer. Once the burner heats the air inside a balloon, past the temperature of the balloon’s surroundings, it will gain altitude.

Once the air in the balloon envelope cools or a pilot vents it, then it descends. Balloon pilots use wind layers you find at varying altitudes to move balloons from one direction and height to another.

How High Can a Hot-Air Balloon Go In The Sky?

Since the altitude alters density, a helium balloon can reach a height of 9,000 meters (29,537 feet). Once it goes higher than this altitude, it causes the helium inside the envelope of the balloon to expand until it pops.

The crew was Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, who had to contend with this when they flew a helium hot-air balloon, the Breitling Orbiter 3, around the world. Thus, setting the longest flight to cover 29,055 miles in 19 days, 21 hours, and 55 minutes.

A passenger hot-air balloon height will typically be from 1,000 to 3,000 feet in the air, compared to an average plane height of 31,000 to 38,000 feet.

Passenger balloons have to fly higher than 1,000 feet in the air when flying across populated areas legally. Aside, you won’t see them pass higher than 3,000 because of the harsh weather conditions at higher altitudes. (Read Are Hot Air Balloons Safe)

How High Can You Fly a Balloon Without Oxygen?

A balloon can fly a distance with the right weather conditions, up to 12,500 feet above sea level, anything past this, and it requires oxygen to breathe.

Here are a few things you ought to know when thinking of taking a hot-air balloon trip.

How to dress for a hot-air balloon ride?

You won’t find conditions or safety clothing requirements for your hot-air balloon ride, so you can wear what is comfortable.

Temperatures are similar to ground level, and the propane fuel from the burner flame offers some warmth. Typically, add a few extra layers as you will be flying earlier in the early morning or late afternoon when the weather and wind are calmer.

Can I Fly in The Rain?

Hot-air balloons can fly when it’s raining, although your experience may not be as good. The shape of a balloon’s envelope means rain flows around the balloon into the basket, which isn’t what you want on a hot air balloon flight.

Rain makes a balloon heavier, thus requiring more heat to fly. If there is a sign of rain, pilots may opt not to take-off and take to the sky as a precaution for safety.

Here are other conditions to think about.

  • Speed and direction of surface wind speed
  • Speeds and directions of the upper wind speed
  • Ground and air temperatures
  • Cloud base height and cover
  • Chances of fog and changing weather conditions

Is there any restriction on weight?

You will find weight restrictions because it is vital for a balloon pilot to calculate weight in the balloon basket. Before the pilot takes off, he will make some calculations based on air temperature and conditions to make sure passenger weights are in an ideal range.

Ambient temperatures around the balloon dictate limits and the altitude it’s flying. Based on this, you can find limits on the number of passengers.

How long does a hot-air balloon ride last?

The length of a hot-air balloon flight can change and will be based on where you launch from on the ground to where you hope to come into land. Balloon flights often last an hour minimum if possible.

The distance can vary as balloons travel an average of 6 miles per hour up to ten. The ground crew and the pilot will pick a safe landing site dedicated to the speed and direction of the wind at that time.

How much does a hot-air balloon lift?

You’ll discover various sizes of balloons, from small 65,000 cubic feet balloons that carry three people, or you can have 350,000 cubic feet balloons or more to carry larger numbers of passengers.

Will I get motion sickness?

If you handle car rides without any issues, you should be okay in a hot-air balloon so long as there isn’t any extreme basket swaying, turbulence or rough conditions.

Can I go in a hot-air balloon if pregnant?

While the flight is often smooth, landings can be bumpy, so it is safer not to fly when pregnant.

How old should children be?

The minimum ages for children to fly in a hot-air balloon is six.

How High Do Hot Air Balloons Fly

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