Later this week I am interviewing a member of a local hot air balloon club for a story. It got me thinking - I have never really given much thought to how hot air balloons work. I’ve never been in one; I’ve never seen one up close; all I know about them is that you sit in a wicker basket and that there’s a flame under the bottom of the balloon that creates the hot air to provide lift.
I never hear or read about hot air balloon accidents, though. Is this because they are extremely rare?
What exactly can go wrong on the balloon? Is the simplicity of the system the reason why it is so safe (if indeed it is?) What happens, for instance, if:
You run out of fuel for the heat source?
Something pierces the balloon? (A bird with a sharp beak?)
It suddenly starts raining very hard?
And also - how do you steer the thing?
Is there anyone here who knows the details of operating a balloon and can give an educated opinion on this?