A Balloon Flight Process
A lot of the work in hot air ballooning comes at the beginning and the end of the flight, when the crew inflates and deflates the balloon.
Before flight, a "Piball" (or Pilot's Balloon) will be released. This is a helium balloon that lets the pilot or pilot's know the direction of the wind. This is the way the hot air balloon will drift. And also tells what way to lay the balloon out.Wind directions change at different altitudes (especially if a front is in the area) and pilots must rely on and know the direction of the winds aloft. A balloon must also be able to land once in the air so the decision for "Go" or "No Go" for launch must take both the takeoff, flight, and a safe landing into consideration.
Once the crew has found a suitable launching point, they attach the uprights and burner system to the basket.
Then they attach the balloon envelope to the basket and begin laying it out on the ground.
Once the envelope is laid out, the crew begins inflating it, using a powerful fan at the base of the envelope
When there is enough air in the balloon, the Pilot blasts the burner flame into the envelope mouth. This heats the air, building temperature inside the balloon, until the balloon starts to lift off the ground.
The ground crew members hold the basket down until ready for launch. The balloon basket is also attached to the ground crew vehicle by a rope until the last minute, so the balloon won't be blown away if a gust of wind comes before the pilot is ready to launch. When everything is set, the ground crew releases the balloon and the pilot fires the burner. As the temperature inside the balloon heats up, the balloon lifts off the ground.
The balloon landing can sometimes be rough. If the ground crew has made it to the landing site, they will catch the basket and hold down once it has landed.
This process usually only takes 10 or 15 minutes. The landing process, combined with deflating and re-packing the balloon envelope, takes a while longer. When the pilot is ready to land, he or she discusses possible landing sites with the ground crew (with a handheld radio ). They need to find a open space where there are no power lines, and plenty of room to lay out the balloon. The pilot is always watching for possible landing sites
Once the balloon envelope is down on the ground, the crew begins squeezing the air out. When the balloon is deflated, the crew packs it into the bag.
We can end the flight with the balloonist's prayer,
The winds have welcomed you with softness The sun has blessed you with its warm hands You have flown so high and so well That God has joined you in your laughter and set you gently back into the loving arms of mother earth
The author of the Balloonist's Prayer is unknown, but it is believed to have been adapted from an old Irish sailors' prayer from long ago.