10 Mind-Blowing Hot Air Balloon Facts You Didn’t Know

If you’re an aircraft enthusiast, you’re going to love these mind-blowing hot air balloon facts. Enjoy this rare trivia, and then take a hot air balloon ride.

By: www.AerogelicBallooning.com

Most people know what a hot air balloon is, but have you ever wondered how these beautiful aircrafts came to be?

There’s such an interesting history behind hot air balloons that’s worth reading up on regardless of whether or not you’d like to ride in one. However, you should definitely take a hot air balloon ride if the opportunity ever presents itself!

Even if you’ve already taken many a ride in these lovely baskets, you should take some time to learn a few hot air balloon facts. Growing your knowledge of these balloons will make your experience riding in them and/or looking at them from below that much more enjoyable.

Here are 10 interesting hot air balloon facts you should know!

1. The First Pilots Were Almost Criminals

The first hot air balloon was invented in the late 1700’s in France. During that time, the French government was big on using executions on criminals.

As such, the king figured it would make sense to put two criminals in charge of the first hot air balloon flight. He thought that if the flight went poorly, the two men would have died anyway so there would be no loss in the matter.

But somehow, the king was convinced otherwise and two French scientists became the first pilots instead. The flight was a success and the men returned to land safely.

2. One of the Actual First Pilots Died in Another Hot Air Balloon

Although the first flight went well for the two French scientists, one of them was not so lucky later on. Jean-Francois Pilatre De Rozier loved that flight so much that he continued to fly hot air balloons regularly. He came to be a well-known hot air balloon pilot in addition to being a highly recognized scientist.

One day, he decided to attempt crossing the English Channel from France to England in a hot air balloon. But, he wanted to see what the flight would be like in an aircraft that was powered in part by hot air and by hydrogen, too.

This didn’t go well for De Rozier. He became the first victim of a fatal hot air balloon accident.

3. The French Used Hot Air Balloons in Battles

Image result for french war balloons
Observation Balloon

The hot air balloon was mostly something the wealthy people of France would use for entertainment, and soon after, other countries caught on. The French also used their hot air balloons in battle, though!

They would take a few balloons out to their soldiers’ camps and raise them up to spy on incoming enemies. The birds-eye view was thought to give the French an advantage as they took note of how their attackers would set up their men.

4. The American Civil War Had a “Balloon Corps”

Abraham Lincoln knew a thing or two about hot air balloon facts and was inspired by their use of them in battles – to the point that he created a Balloon Corps during the American Civil War.

Lincoln thought this would give the Union a valuable advantage in battles. The Balloon Corps was used to spy on incoming enemies, but only for a short while. The Confederates figured out how to make a hot air balloon of their own, and they started sending men to shoot down the balloons of the Union.

The Balloon Corps was soon disbanded.

5. Hot Air Balloons Have a Chase Crew

Hot air balloons may not be used in battle anymore, but they do have a chase crew. This is a team of people who follow the hot air balloon on land. It’s made of only one or two individuals.

The real importance of a chase crew is that the team is driving a vehicle big enough to bring the basket and deflated balloon back to their original destination. The chase crew also gives passengers of the balloon a ride back.

6. Drinking Champagne Is Tradition After Landing

Aerogelic Ballooning Champagne toast

Going back to the times of the French, it was customary for them to share a few glasses of Champagne after a trip in a hot air balloon. This tradition continues today. It’s an added touch that many hot air balloon enthusiasts and first-time riders enjoy.

7. Richard Branson Co-Piloted the Longest Hot Air Balloon Flight

You may know Richard Branson as the man behind Virgin Airlines (as well as other Virgin companies). But, Branson has dabbled in many a business venture and adventurous hobbies in his time.

In 1991, he co-piloted the longest recorded hot air balloon flight. The voyage was the first to cross the Atlantic, traveling from Japan to Canada. It lasted about 46 hours total, and it was actually the second cross-ocean journey Branson had completed in a hot air balloon. The first was his flight across the Pacific in 1987.

8. There’s a Glass Bottom Hot Air Balloon

Traditionally, hot air balloons are made with large baskets to hold passengers comfortably as they stand and enjoy the view. Branson’s was much more complex for his cross-ocean journeys, and there are some other variations out there as well.

One of the most interesting is arguably the glass bottom hot air balloon. As if looking out to the world below you isn’t good enough from a standard hot air balloon, a glass bottom takes this to an entirely different level. It may not be ideal for the faint of heart, but it is an amazing experience.

9. The Biggest Hot Air Balloon Festival Is in New Mexico

Hot Air Balloon Festival
Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

You can see everything from glass-bottom baskets and interesting balloons at hot air balloon festivals. There are many of these events hosted all over the world, but the biggest is in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This festival hosts an average of 700 hot air balloons every year!

People come from far and wide to pilot their balloons and to be a guest on one as well. Many also enjoy the view from below and all kinds of other activities are available on land, too.

10. Hot Air Balloons Have No Steering

The final hot air balloon fact is that they don’t technically have steering. In a standard hot air balloon, the way to navigate is to use weather predictions and fly with the wind.

Pilots turn the air burners on/off throughout flight to get to where they want to go and to land safely. It’s an intricate control system that takes lots of practice and patience to learn.

Other Hot Air Balloon Facts That Will Blow You Away!

Here are a few more interesting hot air balloon facts you should know:

  • the first hot air balloon took flight in 1783
  • 3 animals were the first passengers, not people
  • it’s not safe to fly a hot air balloon in the rain
  • the champagne tradition mentioned above originated as an act of peace

As interesting as all of these facts are, you’re sure to appreciate them more once you’ve actually been in a hot air balloon yourself. There’s really nothing else like it, and there’s no better opportunity than at a hot air balloon festival!

The next time a festival comes to your area, make sure you go. You won’t regret it.

How to Ride Hot Air Balloons If You’re Afraid of Heights

How to Ride Hot Air Balloons If You’re Afraid of Heights

Are you afraid of heights? You can still have an amazing experience on a hot air balloon. Click here to learn how you can ride a balloon with a fear of heights.

Hot air balloons have been around for over 200 years. Originating in France, hot air balloons have been used for entertainment, romantic rides, and even trips around the world! Not only are they useful, but they fill the sky with color, patterns, and pictures.

But what if you want to take a hot air balloon ride, but are afraid of heights? Would a hot air balloon be too much for you? Is there a way to enjoy all the incredible benefits of a balloon ride without much fear?

You’ll be pleased to know there are ways for you to gain confidence and tackle or manage your fear of heights before stepping into the balloon basket. Let’s discuss some of those so you can have a balloon ride free of fear.

What Is Acrophobia?

Acrophobia is a term professional therapists use to describe someone who has a fear of heights. This isn’t just a small worry or concern. It’s a phobia that interferes with the person’s daily lifestyle.

The word phobia is derived from the Greek word, ‘phobos’ which means fear. Acrophobia is a very common phobia affecting over 7% of people. It should not be confused with the fear of falling, which is basophobia.

A person that suffers from acrophobia may be afraid to walk up hills, take elevators, ride roller coasters, or do anything that involved being up high. Or it may be impossible to be up in a building or tall tower or driving over a bridge.

There are physical symptoms associated with acrophobia:

  • crying
  • dizziness
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • racing heart
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms, though people with acrophobia tend to experience several at once.

Sometimes symptoms of acrophobia will be similar to a condition called vertigo. People with vertigo suffer from extreme dizziness or spinning, which is separate from acrophobia.

How to Overcome Acrophobia

When treating acrophobia, the best course of action is usually cognitive behavior therapy or CBT. With CBT the person works on changing their minds about their fears by using behavioral methods to shift their thinking and techniques on how to deal with their fear in a healthy way.

Another treatment option is to face the fear, in this case being someplace high, or there’s thought that virtual reality could be an option.

Why Might I Not be Afraid in a Hot Air Balloon?

Much of acrophobia has to do with how your brain measures distance and your reaction to it.

Pretend you’re in a high building and you look down. Your brain begins to measure distance as it sees objects becoming smaller in a vertical sense. This is when you begin to feel afraid.

In a hot air balloon ride, however, there’s no focal point of distance for your brain to comprehend, only horizontal vastness. All your brain sees is a continual view of landscape, fields, homes, mountain ranges, or other objects.

It’s normal to feel nervous especially the first time, but those nerves can be managed!

Why Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride?

For those that suffer from acrophobia, a hot air balloon ride could be the perfect introduction to overcoming the fear of heights.


Unlike flying in a plane or taking a ride in an elevator, a hot air balloon ride is gentle. It eases its way with the wind, absent for any jarring or extreme movement. Sometimes you don’t even realize when you lift off!


The wind propels the hot air balloon as the pilot manages the burner, so you’re not moving at extreme speeds. This slow motion is perfect for people who need a soft way to overcome acrophobia.


In a hot air balloon ride, nothing is expected of you other than enjoying the incredible views. You don’t have to worry about doing anything. Being in a hot air balloon expands your perspective and the results are lasting!

How to Take a Balloon Ride When You’re Afraid of Heights

If you’re ready to face your fears and step into that basket, be sure to prepare yourself. Here are some tips to get you started.

Schedule It out Months Ahead

Hot air balloon rides need to be scheduled many weeks or months in advance. Call ahead and find out when is the best time for booking.

Scheduling your ride in advance gives you time to prepare yourself for being in the air. Could you practice being in high places so you’re not too afraid when the time comes? Is there a counselor you could talk to learn techniques?

Don’t be afraid to use this time well and slowly you’ll become more confident.

Bring Someone with You

It’s never advised to face a phobia alone. Having a trusted friend or family member with you will help you with some feelings of fear. They can be there to hold your hand or talk you through a difficult moment.

Seek out someone you love and trust and ask them if they’d be willing to help you conquer your fear.

Try Not to Focus on Your Fear

If you’ve been implementing tactics to get through your fear, now’s the time to put them into practice!

While you’re having your ride, try not to zero in on your fear. Doing so will rob you of the spectacular and scenic view you experience from being above the ground.

Yes, you may be nervous once you begin! But take a few moments to breathe deeply and really be in the moment. Most balloon rides last about an hour and seem to go quickly if you’re having fun.


Once you’re back on the ground celebrate your accomplishment! Sometimes it takes much to conquer your fear, and you deserve a quick celebration.

Ready to Face Your Fear?

Being afraid of heights shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a hot air balloon. Hot air balloon rides can be a wonderfully memorable experience like no other. They are freeing and breathtaking, allowing you to gain a perspective you might never have.

If you’re serious about taking a hot air balloon ride but are unsure about heights, take some time to think about it and talk it over. You’ll be glad you did!

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