Hot air balloon operators are often asked how big are hot air balloons. This question has numerous answers as one isn’t always clear on what they are specifically wanting an answer to. For example, if how big are hot air balloons could imply interest in capacity, circumference of the envelope when inflated or height. As it isn’t clearly indicated, we will attempt to answer all of the potential inquiries that the question could be referencing regarding hot air balloon size.
The most common hot air balloons are roughly 55 feet wide ( at their “equator” or widest point)and seven stories tall (75 feet or so). The averagely sized balloon requires the use of near to 2000 sq. yards of nylon fabric, 3 miles of thread, a 1/2 mile of reinforced nylon webbing (load tapes). This size balloon has the capacity to hold between 20,000 to 90,000 cubic feet of heated air and will appear to loom larger than most houses.
There are some that exceed heights of over 100 feet. These balloons are often used for marketing purposes or have oddly shaped envelopes depicting a lovable cartoon character or celebrity likeness. These commercially utilized or specialty shaped balloons can hold up to 150,000 cubic feet to 300,000 cubic feet of air and generally are able to safely accommodate larger baskets which in turn means they can safely carry more travelers.
The capacity with regard to travelers, however, isn’t determined by the size of the balloon entirely. Capacity is more related to the right of the balloon and its passengers and that is what is used to impart limitations on the number of passengers each hot air balloon can safely transport. When you call to reserve a hot air balloon flight your carrier may have options available that accommodate as little as one passenger all the way up to 32. Should you call during peak season, you may find that in order to accommodate all of the members of your party, you will need to reserve the use of multiple balloons at one time or take separate flights.
Hot air balloons with a deflated envelope, a gondola and 2 fuel tanks with roughly 30-40 gallons of fuel can weigh as much as 800 pounds. The specialty shaped balloons mentioned earlier can weigh in the thousands of pounds and inflated can weigh as much as 2.5 tons. Accommodating the weight of the balloon in conjunction with the number of passengers and maintaining a stable, secure and safe flight is something ballooning operators take very seriously.
Tethered balloon options are often available in a variety of capacities as well though generally speaking do not exceed the capability of up to 8 passengers.