Ballooning is another great way to learn how to fly. Hot air balloons use the fact that warm air rises to generate altitude. While it is not as fast paced as some sports, ballooning can become an addicting hobby.
The easiest way to begin ballooning is to go up with an experienced pilot. Many companies offer hot air balloon rides for a price, and often the pilots will be more than willing to talk to you about their craft. Balloon festivals are another great resource to find more about flying itself and about clubs and events in your area.
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The hot air balloon has a relatively simple construction. The inflated envelope is usually composed of ripstop nylon or dacron and sealed in order to prevent the escape of air. A parachute vent at the top allows the warm air to escape and will initiate the decent of the balloon, while side vents will aid in turning and maneuvering. The basket where the passengers ride is fastened beneath the envelope and is typically made of wicker or aluminum. The burner is located just above basket and produces an open flame that heats the air and allows the balloon to fly. Most balloons will also have a drop line that allows people on the ground to guide the balloon away from dangerous obstacles as it lands. Most safety guides also recommend the operator wear flame retardant gloves.
A pilot's license is required to operate a hot air balloon, so in order to get into this sport, you will need to attend a flight school and pass a licensing exam. It is possible to get a commercial license if you would like to become an instructor yourself or take people on ballooning tours.
Ballooning can be a relaxing way to enjoy flying. It is relatively low risk, but still has all the benefits of free, untethered flight.