Ballooning is the act of flying hot air balloons. Attractive aspects of the sport include the exceptional quiet environment (except when the propane burners are firing), the bird's eye view and the lack of a feeling of movement.
The modern sport was evolved in 1960 when Ed Yost invented a balloon with a new nylon envelope and a propane burner system invented by himself. Today, hot air balloons are used mainly for a recreational purpose. Many of the regular gatherings of balloons and balloonists take place around the world and most of them on an annual basis.
The balloon festivals include races, evening night glows (balloons are fired while remaining tethered to the ground) and rides. Some of the major ballooning events are the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.
The idea of air balloons was believed to be born in China in the Three Kingdoms era (220–280 AD) when Zhuge Liang used them to signal the military which was known as the Kongming lanterns.
The Mongolian Army studied the pattern of the lantern and used it during their Battle of Legnica, and thus the concept became popular.
The Scottish Physicist proposed the idea of filling the balloons with the hydrogen gas to propel the balloons in the air in a better way. The first human-crewed balloon flight was recorded on 21st November 1783, and Montgolfier brothers built the balloon.
In this variant of ballooning, the balloons obtain buoyancy by heating the air inside the balloon and is the most common type of ballooning.
The first hot air balloon was built by the Josef and Etienne Montgolfier in 1783.
The concept of air ballooning lies in the scientifical fact that when the air inside the balloon is heated, it expands and thus covers a larger volume with less weight. When the air expands up to the extent that its lifting power exceeds the atmospheric pressure outside the envelope of the balloon; it starts lifting along with the load attached with it.
The hot air balloon stays in the air until the air is heated through the fuel burned through the respective mechanism. In the 1950s, cheap and convenient gas burners were produced that made the culture of hot air ballooning popular.
Another way to lift giant balloons in the air is to fill these envelopes with a gas of lighter molecular weight than those present in the atmosphere. On 1st December 1783, the first man-carrying balloon was made by Professor Jacques Charles using Hydrogen gas for better buoyancy.
Gas balloons have greater lifting ability as compared to hot air balloons. They don't need much volume and hence are smaller in size but with great buoyancy. With these properties, gas balloons were able to dominate almost two decades.
In the 19th century, people started filling the balloon with town gas (Coal gas) which was much cheaper and easily available but not as lighter as hydrogen. Being capable of lifting the load to the higher altitude with a little amount of gas-filled; gas balloons proved to be more fruitful for scientific purposes.
Pilâtre de Rozier, who is regarded as one of the first pioneers of the aviation; realised that there could be a combination of two kinds of balloons and thus, began his research to combine the properties of both types of the balloons.
Therefore, he developed a hybrid balloon known as the Rozier Balloon that could sustain in the higher altitude for a longer time to travel through long distances.
These balloons carried two gasbags: the upper one having the hydrogen gas providing the steady lift in the air and lower one having the hot air to provide good altitude-control. The balloon experimented for the first time in 1785 when Pilâtre de Rozier himself rode in the balloon, but unfortunately, the Hydrogen bag caught fire, and the founder died.
The incident made him earned the title "The First to Fly and the First to Die". Later on, non-inflammable helium gas was used instead of the hydrogen gas for safe operations.
An altimeter is a device which gives audible signals and shows the height above the ground.
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a necessary equipment used by pilots to mark the flight path at the time of flying and can also be used to analyze flying technique at the time of training.
It is a device which indicates the climb rate (or sink rate) with audio signals (beeps) or a visual display and helps the pilot to find and stay in the core of a thermal.
Protective helmets are worn by the pilots and the crew for protection against head injuries.
Gloves made of leather or flame-retardant fiber are worn by pilots which help to shut off a gas valve in the case of a leak.
Strong and sturdy shoes/boots are worn which offer good ankle support.
Pilots wear flame resistant clothing (cotton, linen, nomex, etc.) which covers their arms and legs and protect them against injuries.
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