Elegant, enchanting and mysterious, there’s no doubt that a hot air balloon captures the imagination. Whether you’re already a veteran of the Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari experience, or an eager guest waiting to join us, here’s 5 fascinating facts we’re betting you didn’t know about the world of hot air ballooning.

How high does the balloon go?

While the inner workings of the balloon may seem mysterious, it’s actually not as confusing as you may think. Hot air balloons basically work by heating the air inside the balloon until it’s less dense than the surrounding air, allowing it to lift. Of course, there’s a little more to it than that, but we don’t want to spill all of our secrets in one! The lift produced by this simple concept is quite immense- balloons can rise up to 21 000 metres, as evidenced by the current world record. Don’t worry, though, we won’t be heading up that high. Most balloon flights take place at around 1.5km above the ground.

Where did hot air ballooning start?

The very first passenger hot air balloon flight took place in France in 1783, so there’s a rich and noble history to ballooning. Commercial ballooning as we know it today has been on the rise since 1967, when the safe modern form of the balloon was first refined. Commercial passenger flights like ours are relative newcomers on the scene, beginning internationally from the 90’s onward.

How much gas is used on a hot air balloon flight?

Don’t be too intimidated by the many bottles you will see on the flight- we always take along extra just in case. There’s no strictly correct answer to this question, as weather conditions will have an immense impact on the gas burned during the flight- which is propane gas just like your stove, by the way. However, the average 45 min to 1 hour flight will use somewhere between 75l and 110l of gas.

How do you become a hot air balloon pilot?

As with any other aircraft, a balloon pilot must have a license and their flight hours under their belt. This involves passing written tests as well as flight tests, and meet some fairly stringent safety requirements so don’t worry- you are in good hands!

How do we get back to the clubhouse after a flight?

Our ‘retrieve crew’ have the balloon in their sights at all times, and communicate with the pilot too, so don’t worry, they- and the bubbly- will be close at hand when you land.

Is there anything else you’d love to know about the hot air ballooning experience in South Africa? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari team today.