Well, the balloon has lifted off, two crew people have been assigned to drive and navigate and you are about to hit the road to chase that beautiful balloon. You can sit and chit chat with everyone else, but why not take an hour or so to read over and discuss the various terminology's used in ballooning. Many of these have been lifted from sources long forgotten, but others came from friends and still others are mine alone.
ACROPHOBIA: The fear of heights.
AERONAUT: One who operates or travels in a balloon.
AEROSTAT: The balloon itself.
ALTIMETER: An instrument to register changes in atmospheric pressure resulting from a change in altitude. It is calibrated to indicate height above mean sea level.
APEX: The uppermost point or crown of the balloon envelope where gore ends and load tapes meet.
BALLOONMEISTER: The person responsible for the various balloon activities at a balloon meet.
BAROGRAPH: A recording barometer which senses changes in the atmospheric pressure. It records altitude and time.
BASKET: Cockpit of the balloon designed to hold passengers, fuel tanks and the operational control systems. In some types of ballooning it is referred to as the gondola.
BLAST VALVE: A high pressure fuel valve used to put heat into the envelope.
BTU: British Thermal Unit. The amount of heat required to raise the temperatures of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Burners on balloons are rated by their BTU output.
BUOYANCY: The tendency of a balloon to float in the air.
BURNER: The fuel burning device consisting of superheating coils, propane jets and pilot light.
CEILING: The height of the lowest layer of clouds above the ground.
CHASE CREW: The crew members who follow the balloon in a vehicle to retrieve it after landing.
CROWN LINE: A handling line some 100' long attached to the apex or crown of the balloon. Used to steady the balloon during inflation and deflation.
DEFLATION PORT: The rip panel or section of the envelope that separates from it to allow hot air to escape quickly.
ENVELOPE: The fabric portion of the balloon that holds the hot air.
EQUATOR: Where the circumference of the balloon is the greatest.
EQUILIBRIUM: The state of balance when the balloon's lift equals its weight and becomes buoyant.
FAHRENHEIT: One of two common temperature scales; the other being Centigrade or Celsius. On a Fahrenheit scale 32o is the freezing point of water under standard atmospheric pressure.
FALSE LIFT: The venturi effect of the wind that causes the balloon to lift off before equilibrium is reached.
GORE; The lengthy pieces of balloon fabric which taper at each end to form the vertical sections of the envelope.
HANDLING LINE: A 50' rope attached near the equator. Used to maintain stability of the balloon during inflation or deflation.
HEATER: See burner.
INFLATION: The process by which air is forced into the envelope and then heated.
KEVLAR: A non conducting material used to replace stainless steel suspension cables.
KNOT: A unit of speed in nautical miles per hour.
LAPSE RATE: The decreases in atmospheric temperature with altitude.
LOAD TAPE: A flat vertical or horizontal webbed nylon strap that takes most of the envelope stress.
MANEUVERING VENT: A closeable flap operated by a control line which permits hot air to be vented from the envelope.
METERING VALVE: A high pressure fuel valve used to regulate the flow of propane.
MOUTH: The opening at the base of a hot air balloon.
NOMEX: Flame proof fabric used in the skirt and / or lower panels on some balloons.
PANEL: The fabric section part of a gore on the envelope.
PILOT LIGHT: A separate small burner with a constant flame. The purpose is to ignite the burner.
PROPANE: The liquefied fuel used to heat the air in the envelope. It is under high pressure and is burned as a gas.
PYROMETER: A temperature gauge to measure the heat of the air at the top of the envelope.
RIP LINE: The line, usually colored red, that runs from the rip panel into the basket. It is the means of initiating the deflation procedure.
RIP PANEL: The large circular or triangular section of the balloon envelope which is opened by pulling the rip line.
SKIRT: An optional extension of the envelope usually made of flame-proof NOMEX. Its purpose is to help channel hot air into the mouth of the balloon.
SUPERHEAT: The buildup of balloon temperature caused by the sun shining o the envelope. Superheat applies only to solar or gas balloons.
SUSPENSION CABLES: Kevlar or stainless steel wires which transmit loads from the burner frame assembly or the basket superstructure to the load tapes on the envelope.
TEMPERATURE INVERSION: A condition in which the upper air temperature increases rather than decreases.
TETHERING: When the balloon is held to the ground by a tether or mooring line.
THERMAL: A rising column of warm spiraling air.
THROAT: The area near the mouth of the envelope.
VARIOMETER: An electric powered instrument to indicate rate of climb / descent.
As always, please forward comments or suggestions to me at P. O. Box 830011, Richardson, Texas 75083 or e-mail: email@example.com. (New E-mail address.)