Hot Air Balloon flight: Safety equipment

 Hot Air Balloon flight: Safety equipment

To ensure the safety of pilot and passengers, a hot air balloon must carry several pieces of safety equipment.

In the basket
To relight the burner if the pilot light goes out and the optional piezo ignition fails, the pilot should have ready access to a flint spark lighter. Many systems, especially those that carry passengers, have completely redundant fuel and burner systems: two fuel tanks, connected to two separate hoses, which feed two distinct burners. This enables a safe landing in the case of a clog somewhere in one system or if a system must be disabled because of a fuel leak.
A fire extinguisher suitable for extinguishing propane fires is a useful piece of safety equipment in a balloon. Most balloons carry a 1 kg AB:E type fire extinguisher.
A handling or drop line is mandatory safety equipment in many countries. It is a rope or webbing of 20 - 30 meters in length attached to the balloon basket with a quick release connection at one end. In very calm wind conditions the balloon pilot can throw the handling line from the balloon so that the ground crew can safely guide the balloon away from obstructions on the ground.

On the occupants
At a minimum the pilot should wear flame resistant gloves. These can be made of leather or some more sophisticated material, such as nomex. These will enable the pilot to shut off a gas valve in the case of a leak even if there is a flame present. Quick action on the pilot's part to stop the flow of gas can turn a potential disaster into an inconvenience. In addition, the pilot should wear clothes made of natural fibers. These will singe and not burn readily if brought into contact with an open flame. Many synthetic fibers, unless especially formulated for use near flame or high temperatures like nomex, will melt onto the wearer and can cause severe burning. some balloon systems especially those that hang the burner from the envelope instead of supporting it rigidly from the basket, require the use of helmets by the pilot and passengers.

On the ground crew
The ground crew should wear gloves on their hands whenever the possibility of handling ropes or lines exists. The mass and exposed surface to air movement of a medium sized balloon is sufficient to cause rope burns to the hands of anyone trying to stop or prevent movement. The ground crew should also wear sturdy shoes and at least long pants in case of the need to access a landing or landed balloon in rough or overgrown terrain.


2 comments:

  1. It is so much fun when you ride in a hot air balloon. But you must know some precautionary measures when riding in a balloon. Your ideas give us some knowledge that we are going to use when we ride in a balloon.

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