All of those words and terms used by the ballooning community which might seem a little odd to an outsider.
The pilot of a balloon or airship.
A lighter-than-air craft. A hot-air balloon is an aerostat.
The science of lighter-than-air flight.
Above ground level
A pressure sensing device (barometer) calibrated in feet which is carried in an aircraft to tell the pilot how high the aircraft is off the ground.
Fanatic balloon enthusiasts. Many of whom eat, drink and sleep ballooning. Why else would they get up at 4:30 in the morning to stand out in the cold and do hard manual labour? Why – because they are balloonatics!
Also referred to as the gondola; the part of the balloon used to carry the pilot and passengers, fuel tanks, and other equipment. Constructed from wicker and light wood base, or in the case of high-altitude and long-distance craft, pressurizable materials.
British Thermal Unit- BTU
The quantity of heat necessary to raise the temperature of a pound (0.45Kg) of water by one degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degrees Celcius). It is approximately 1.055 kilojoules.
Device used to ignite and project flammable fuel (usually propane gas) up into the envelope to heat the air in a hot-air balloon. Burners come in a variety of configurations.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority is the Australian government agency that regulates all non military aircraft, pilots, airports and air spaces.
Certificate of Airworthiness
A document which states that an aircraft is fit to fly. A balloon as to be regularly checked to make sure the fabric isn’t getting too weak, the basket isn’t unravelling etc. I
Also referred to as the “recovery” or more frequently “retrieve”; the process by which the aerostat is tracked during flight and retrieved afterwards by crew on the ground or in another craft (like a boat).
The crew that chases the aerostat – more frequently known as the retrieve crew.
Convergent Navigational Task – CNT
A ballooning event where pilots attempt to fly from a designated distance to a single point, usually a scoring ‘X’. Also known as Controlled Navigational Trajectory Event, or a Fly-In task.
Some one who sacrifices himself during a flap inflation to stand inside the envelope and hold it up so that no valuable rip-stop gets burnt.
The top of the balloon envelope.
A rope which, at one end, is fastened to the top (or crown) of the balloon envelope, and at the other end, is used by a member of the crew to help stabilize the balloon during inflation and deflation.
The ring of metal at the top of the envelope to which all the load tapes are attached.
A rope, belt or other line attached to the aerostat (usually the gondola) on one end. Normally furled or stowed during flight, it can be released by the pilot and secured by ground crewmembers who use it to maneuver the craft into or through tight landing areas.
The portion of the balloon which holds the heated air (for hot-air balloons) or gas for gas balloons. Constructed of cloth such as ripstop nylon or nomex, or other light, relatively impermeable material.
First Flight Ceremony
Those who have endured it need no explanation. Those who have not should know that its origins are cloaked in mystery and shrouded in the most sacred rites of ballooning. Suffice it to say that the ceremony involves various liquid refreshment (usually champagne). Once having successfully survived the ceremony, the Initiate has been officially inducted into the Noble Fraternity of Aeronauts.
Before the days of inflator fans, the only way to get cold air into the envelope prior to turning on the burner was to flap the top side of the mouth up and down. Once a small amount of air had been put inside the envelope, the pilot would periodically burn to heat the air as the mouth was flapped open. Clearly this might burn the inside of the balloon higher up, so necessitated a Cremation Charlie.
Competition where multiple judge declared goals are set.
Hot air can’t be directly put into the envelope it first has to be filled with cold air using the inflator fan. Only then can this air be heated using the burner. Before fans, the balloon had to be flap inflated.
Extremely important for aerostat activities, especially considering the limited control over landing location. Ideally, the pilot or chase crew should secure permission from the landowner before landing on their property. The wishes of the landowner take precedence during landing and recovery, within the limits of flight physics and safety. Landowner relations also apply to low overflights of landowner’s property.
Reinforced vertical seams along the length of the envelope, connected by the load cables to the basket. The actual load-bearing parts of the envelope.
Mean Sea Level
The stabilizing struts between the basket, the burner mount and the load cables. On some balloons the poles are actually load-bearing elements; on others they simply act as stiff or slightly flexible guides for the actual load-bearing elements and connections from envelope sensors to the instrument console. Also referred to as “burner supports”, “supports” or “flexi poles” there main job is to stop the burner knocking you on the head during landing.
Pilot in Command
A restricted operation zone where balloon launchings and landings are prohibited by the landowner. In some cases, a minimum altitude restriction may also exist.
Short for ‘Pilot Under Training” or “Pilot Under Tuition”.
See prohibited zone.
The material that makes up most of envelope.
Restricted Operations Zone
A land area on or over which balloon operations are restricted by the landowner. Also refered to as a prohibited zone (PZ) or a sensitive zone (SZ).
See chase and chase crew.
Type of balloon that uses both gas and hot air. Sometimes called a hybrid or a temperature controlled helium balloon. These have been used for most of the ultra long distance flights since the early 1990’s.
A panel located about half way up the balloon which is used to orient the balloon during flight and for the landing. Two lines come from the rotation vent, one to rotate left and the other to rotate right.
A specialized-shape skirt which, on American balloons, narrows to an inch or two on one side and widens to extend all the way from the top of the poles to the base of the envelope proper, forming a tilted mouth. The idea of the scoop is to provide better control of the aerostat’s orientation. Ideally, the front (or main part of the scoop) will always be kept in the direction of travel. It may also aid in keeping the envelope full.
A restricted operation zone where balloon launchings and landings may be allowed by the landowner under special circumstances. In some cases, a minimum altitude restriction may also exist.
The cloth segment of the envelope below the load cable connections, frequently detachable, often made of Nomex or similar fire-resistant material.
Is an Australian invented deflation system for balloons. It allows the pilot to release a lot of hot air from the balloon during landing and can be reset.
Someone who delights in collecting balloon licence numbers, badges and anoraks.
See sensitive zone.
Keeping a balloon tied to the ground so that it doesn’t fly away.
The signal from a launch director that the airspace above is clear and you have permission to launch. Any digit other than the thumb means something entirely different.
Technical data content credited to Mr Steve Griffin