Aviation class learns up-close how hot-air balloons work
Students in a new aviation ground training class at EHS got the chance to see a hot-air balloon be unpacked, inflated and prepared for flight Thursday on the practice field.
Falcon Aerolab instructor Jesse Harden, with the help of colleagues Ella Hurley and Josh Snowberger, gave the students opportunities to help prepare the balloon's gondola, unpack the balloon, begin inflating it, learn how to attach the parachute section at the top, then learn how to regulate airflow there and at the bottom in order to take flight. Because they were on the high school campus -- and because it was already too warm by mid-morning -- flying the balloon was not possible, but the students who have an interest in aerospace careers received rare insight into the mechanics of ballooning.
Among some bits of knowledge Harden shared was the fact that his balloon, Fool's Gold, was made in 1992, and the basket was made in 1984. He said a used balloon like his costs around $10,000, and a new one could run $30,000-$40,000. Harden also let the students know that the youngest among them could become a licensed balloon pilot (at age 16) before they could drive a car on their own (age 17).
Here are some photos of the step-by-step process to inflate the balloon: