Hot Air Balloons: Romantic or Scary?
Taking a ride in a hot air balloon connects you with the oldest form of flying for humans. Hot air balloon rides are also a standard part of the cliché ‘dream date’ scenario. Riders can experience a once of a lifetime experience in a hot air balloon ride; these rides offer a peaceful and serene way to see the landscape from a bird’s eye view. A highly skilled and properly trained pilot can make the experience magical, but an inexperienced pilot and other terrifying factors can make a hot air balloon ride a life threatening experience.
Accidents in Hot Air Balloons
According to BrisbaneHotAirBallooning.com, the following reasons cause hot air ballooning accidents:
- 12% of accidents are caused by wire strikes
- 15% of hot air balloon accidents are ground collisions
- Hard landscaping collisions account for 14% of accidents
- Fire is a factor in 6% of all hot air balloon accidents
- Improper ground handling is the cause of 12% of incidents
- Pilot error and weather related accidents make up 23% of all hot air ballooning accidents
Additionally, NBCBayArea.com points out the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have records of 1,350 injuries as a result of hot air balloon accidents since 1964, 73 of those were deaths. These numbers seems small, but consider that there are far less hot air balloons in the air than air planes and other air crafts.
Safety Concerns in Hot Air Balloons
A hot air balloon pilot must be certified through the Federal Aviator Administration (FAA) – a properly trained pilot will be able to minimize the risks of collisions and landing troubles. Inexperienced pilots can greatly add to the risk of accidents in a hot air balloon and should not operate a hot air balloon with passengers.
The design of the hot air balloon is where most of the major risks lay – the balloon is an object in the air which floats and is controlled through controlling the altitude to find air which is moving in the direction you want to go in.
The problem with this is that air changes and movements can be very unpredictable at times and push the balloon in a direction it was not intended to go in – when a hot air balloon goes of course, it is at risk for collision with homes, buildings, trees, and power lines.
Other collision scenarios include a collision between two balloons during festivals when air traffic is denser. Hot air balloon collisions can lead to rips in the balloon, damages to the equipment, and even fires – these incidences will almost certainly cause injuries to passengers, sometimes they even result in fatalities.
The time of day a hot air balloon is being piloted also makes a major difference in the safety of a ride. Winds are more favorable at dawn and dusk and these are the most common times for rides. However, these are not favorable times for riding, since visibility is low and obstructions are hard to spot. An experienced pilot and hot air balloon rental company should be able to use meteorology information to properly plan rides during ideal times of day to avoid high winds and poor visibility.
Consider these risks when contemplating date ideas. After reading these statistics, a picnic at sunset may seem more appealing.
Have you had a bad experience with a hot air balloon? If so, what caused it?
SimplyLili is a PhD student in Social Psychology and an avid blogger. Her main goal is to bring awareness to issues that warrant social responsibility and action. She is a self-proclaimed nerd and her 3 fave things are cheesecake, rainy days, and pugs.