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Hot Air Balloons Still flying high after hundreds of years.

Invented in France in 1783, hot air balloons are the oldest successful flight machines made by mankind. They range from very basic balloons to their advanced cousins, the airship or zeppelin.

Ballooning is very different from other forms of flight. The experience is very quiet, gives an amazing view, and the movement is very gentle. The giant balloon itself is called the envelope and come in a variety of spectacular colours and designs, as well as unusual shapes. These days they are made from nylon and the base from a fire resistant material. A burner at the base, usually gas, provides hot air which rises into the envelope and provides lift, gently causing the balloon to rise into the sky. The buoyancy is closely related to the difference between air temperature inside the balloon and outside, meaning that the air does not have to be tremendously hot, just more than the air around it. Most nylon balloons us a maximum of 120 degrees Celsius.

Most flights launch early in the morning when he air is coolest and the winds are generally low. The envelope is unpacked and a fan is used to blow normal cold air into the envelope and inflate it just enough to establish the shape, then the burner is used to heat the air inside while the users hold the balloon down with ropes. Once the wind has been judged using smaller balloons the pilot can take off, rising or descending into different air currents to change direction.

The balloon has been used throughout history; the Chinese used small unmanned balloons as signalling tools and they were employed as lookout posts during the American civil war and the French revolutionary wars. Despite their appearance as being slow, lumbering and fragile, Hot air balloons are able to fly to extremely high altitudes. On November 26, 2005, Vijaypat Singhania set the world altitude record for highest hot air balloon flight, reaching 21,290 meters (69,852 feet). He took off from downtown Bombay, India and landed 240 km (150 miles) south in Panchale. The furthest that a hot air balloon has ever been flown is 7,671.91 km. In January 15, 1991, the Virgin Pacific Flyer balloon completed the longest flight in a hot air balloon when Per Lindstrand (born in Sweden, but resident in the UK) and Richard Branson of the UK flew from Japan to Northern Canada.

About the Author: John Gibb is the owner of hot air balloons resources
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