The Language of Hot Air Ballooning

Have you heard two balloon pilots talking and wondered what language they were speaking? Maybe you are going on an upcoming balloon flight and want to understand a few of the terms that are used.

Here are a few of the main terms used in ballooning that will help you appear an expert when you meet your pilot on your upcoming flight:

Carabineer – d shaped locking metal clamp used to secure fly wires to the basket structure.
Flying wires – steel wires that run from the load tapes on the envelope to the burner frame.
Load tapes – heavy-duty nylon tapes that run the length of the envelope and carry the load distributed throughout the envelope
Burner – the device used to feed and ignite flammable fuel into the envelope through the mouth to heat the air within.
Envelope – the large portion of the balloon that holds the heated air, providing lift. Made of various types of nylon, and includes the load tapes. Is packed away by squeezing the air out and stuffing into a heavy-duty bag.
Basket – the compartment used to carry the pilot, fuel and passengers. Has the burner frame with burners attached above, which in turn are attached to the envelope. All tied together through a combination of flying wires and carabineer couplings.
Crown line – thick nylon rope running from the top (crown) of the envelope. Used to secure the balloon during inflation, and to pull the balloon “over” after final landing as part of the deflation process.
Quick release – device securing the balloon to a support vehicle that once armed, can be quickly disengaged by the pilot upon lifting off. Typically used in less stable flying conditions.
Scoop – a curved shape piece of fabric running from the mouth to nearly the top of the burner frame.
Mouth – the open, narrow end of the balloon envelope through which the hot air is introduced.
Fan – powerful motor-driven blower that forces cold air into the envelope as part of initial, cold inflation.
Cold inflation – the initial stage of inflating a hot air balloon. Cold air is forced into the envelope prior to using the burners.
Cowburner – a softer, yellow flame, used in nightglows. Quieter than a full burn.

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