a Barnes basket? Or what's a CNT? Or even a crown line? For most balloonists,
these terms are taken for granted, but for the vast majority of people,
and many new crew members, these and other ballooning terms are a mystery.
The goal of the Ballooning Glossary is to build and present as nearly a
complete list of ballooning terms and their meanings as possible. We'll
attempt to cross-reference similar terms, and provide useful examples of
their use. If you know of any ballooning terms that are not listed here,
These terms were nicked from an English site who nicked them from an American site.
0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
'56','77','105','180', etc. - Balloons are often referred to by their size, or capacity in cubic feet. Thus a balloon with envelope capacity 77,000 cubic feet is often called a "77", and a "105" refers to a balloon with envelope capacity 105,000 cubic feet.
- Aerostat - A lighter-than-air craft. A hot-air balloon is an aerostat.
- Aerostation - The science of lighter-than-air flight.
- AGL - Above Ground Level
- Ammonia (NH3) - Type of balloon that uses ammonia as its lifting agent instead of helium, hydrogen or coal gas. Becoming very popular in 1990's. Much less costly than flying other gas bags. Has approximately 0.5 lifting power of helium. Popularized by Tim Cole and Dennis Brown of Colorado. Ammonia gas is readily available in agricultural areas and smells a bit.
- Balloon - a general term for an aerostat.
- Balloonatic - Fanatic balloon enthusiast. One who eats, drinks and sleeps ballooning. Why else would one get up at 4:30 in the morning to stand out in the cold and do hard manual labour? Why? Because they're a balloonatic!
Basket - A triangular shaped basket used primarily
on Balloon Works balloons. Named after its originator, Tracy Barnes.
- Basket - also referred to as the gondola; the part of the balloon used to carry the pilot and passengers, fuel tanks, and other equipment. Constructed from wicker and light wood base, or in the case of high-altitude and long-distance craft, pressurized materials.
- Biner - a "D", or "O" shaped locking metal clamp used to connect things together (in particular, load cables to baskets, or tie-off lines to retrieve vehicles)
- British Thermal Unit (BTU) - the quantity of heat necessary to raise the temperature of a pound (0.45Kg) of water by one degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degrees Celsius).
- BTU - British Thermal Unit.
- Burner - device used to ignite and
project flammable fuel (usually propane gas) up into the envelope
to heat the air in a hot-air balloon. Burners come in a variety
of configurations and powers (which are measured in BTUs, usually in the millions).
- Carabiner - a "D", or "O" shaped locking metal clamp used to connect things together (in particular, load cables to baskets, or tie-off lines to retrieve vehicles).
- Certificate of Airworthiness - A balloon has to be regularly checked to make sure the fabric isn't getting too weak, the basket isn't unravelling etc. If your balloon's OK you get one of these and are allowed to fly.
- Chase - also referred to as the "recovery"
or "retrieve"; the process by which the aerostat. is tracked during flight and retrieved afterwards by crew on the ground or in another craft (like a boat).
- Chase Crew - the crew that chases the balloon - also known as the retrieve crew.
- CNT - See Convergent Navigational Task.
- Competition Ballooning - there's lots to competition ballooning, and lots of terms that aren't yet included here. Follow the link for more details.
- Convergent Navigational Task (CNT) - A ballooning event where pilots attempt to fly from a designated distance to a single point, usually a scoring 'X'. Also known as Controlled Navigational Trajectory Event, or a Fly-In task.
- Cremation Charlie - Some one
who sacrifices himself during a flap inflation
to stand inside the envelope and hold it up so that no valuable rip-stop gets burnt.
- Crown - the top of the balloon envelope.
- Crown Line - a rope which, at one end, is fastened to
the top (or crown) of the balloon envelope, and at the other end, is used by a member of the crew to help stabilize the balloon during inflation and deflation. It is usually a good 50-100 feet (15-30 meters) longer than the balloon is tall.
- Crown Ring - the ring of metal at the top of the envelope
to which all the load tapes are attached.
- Drop Line - a rope, belt or other line attached to the
balloon (usually the gondola) on one end. Normally furled or stowed during flight, it can be released by the pilot and secured by ground crew members who use it to maneuver the craft into or through tight areas.
- Envelope - the portion of the balloon which holds the heated air (for hot-air balloons) or gas for gas balloons. Constructed of cloth such as ripstop nylon or nomex, or other light, relatively impermeable material.
- Fan - see inflator fan.
- FAA - Federal Aviation Administration
- First Flight Ceremony - Those who have endured it need no explanation. Those who have not should know that its origins are cloaked in mystery and shrouded in the most sacred rites of ballooning. Suffice it to say that the ceremony involves various liquid refreshment (usually champagne). Once having successfully survived the ceremony, the Initiate has been officially inducted into the Noble Fraternity of Aeronauts.
- Flap Inflation - before the days
of inflator fans, the only way to get
cold air into the envelope prior to turning
on the burner was to flap the top side of
the mouth up and down. Once a small amount of air had been put inside the envelope,
the pilot would periodically burn to heat the air as the mouth
was flapped open. Clearly this might burn the inside of the balloon
higher up, so necessitated a Cremation Charlie.
- Fly-in Task - A ballooning event where pilots attempt to fly from a designated distance to a single point, usually a scoring 'X'. Also known as Controlled Navigational Trajectory Event, or a Navigational Trajectory Event.
are done at night; the balloon is secured to the ground and illuminated
when the propane is fired.
- Gondola - see basket.
- Greasy Spoon - a road side cafe typically serving bacon and eggs, and all the wholesome things balloonists like to eat on the way home from a lovely morning flight.
and the Hounds - a non-competitive balloon is chosen as the hare.
When the hare lands, he places a large X to mark his spot. The
hounds must then try to drop a bean bag on the X. The closest
to the center gets the most points.
Waltz - competition for which multiple judge- declared
goals are set.
- an aerostat; the pilot sits in a chair or
harness underneath the envelope, as opposed
to standing in a basket.
- Inflator Fan - Hot air can't
be directly put into the envelope it first
has to be filled with cold air using the inflator fan. Only then
can this air be heated using the burner.
Before fans, the balloon had to be flap inflated.
Declared Goal - competition for which a single target is set and
all balloons fly from the launch site with the aim of dropping their
markers as close as possible to the goal.
Grab - a competition for which a key is placed on top of a pole;
the first one to get to the pole and grab the key wins the prize. The
key is sometimes a key to a truck, car or motorcycle.
- Landowner - The person, business or organization which holds the title to the property upon which the aerostat launches and/or lands.
- Landowner Relations - Extremely important for ballooning activities, especially considering the limited control over landing location. Ideally, the pilot or chase crew should secure permission from the landowner before landing on their property. The wishes of the landowner take precedence during landing and recovery, within the limits of flight physics and safety. Landowner relations also apply to low overflights of landowners property.
- Load Tapes - reinforced vertical
seams along the length of the envelope,
connected by the load cables to the basket. The actual load-bearing parts of the envelope.
- Mouth - The opening at the base of
the balloon envelope through which the
flames from the burner passes to heat the air inside the envelope. This is sometimes referred to as the 'throat' - but by who I don't know.
- MSL - Above Mean Sea Level
- Nomex - fire-resistant material that
the scoop and bottom section of the envelope are made of.
- Pilot Declared Goal - is the same as the JDG, but the pilot chooses his target.
- Poles - the stabilizing struts between
the basket, the burner mount and the load cables. On some balloons the poles are actually load-bearing elements; on others they simply act as stiff or slightly flexible guides for the actual load-bearing elements and connections from envelope sensors to the instrument console. Also referred to as "burner supports", "supports" or "flexi poles" there main job is to stop the burner knocking you on the head during landing.
- Prohibited Zone - a restricted operation zone where balloon launchings and landings are prohibited by the landowner. In some cases, a minimum altitude restriction may also exist.
- PUT - short for 'Pilot Under Training".
- PZ - see prohibited zone.
- Red Zone - see prohibited zone.
- Rip-stop Nylon - the material that makes up most of envelope.
- Restricted Operations Zone - a land area on or over which balloon operations are restricted by the landowner. Also referred to as a prohibited zone
(PZ) or a sensitive zone (SZ).
- Retrieve Crew - see chase and chase crew.
- Rosiere - Type of balloon that uses both gas and hot air. Sometimes called a hybrid. See the Unfortunate Facts From Ballooning History page for what happened to the first attempt. Nick Saum home built unit in mid 80's and set many World Class Records. Flying AM-2 went 340 miles in 17 hours. Took off at approx. 5 PM and landed 11 am next day. Later took same balloon to over 18,000' MSL. for alt. record Takeoff was about
3900' MSL. Cheyenne Wells, Co to Syracuse, KS USA. Ground temp was 25 F, so don't you know that got a little chilly. Steve Fossett is one of the latest to use this type of balloon. He flew from Seoul, ROK to Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada in Feb. 1995 Over 5400 miles solo. Best Trans- Pacific flight yet. That flight took 102 hrs and 15 minutes. (Camerons make the best ones, of course).
- Scoop - a specialized-shape skirt
which, on American balloons, narrows to an inch or two on one
side and widens to extend all the way from the top of the poles
to the base of the envelope proper, forming
a tilted mouth. The idea of the scoop is
to provide better control of the aerostat's
orientation. Ideally, the front (or main part of the scoop) will
always be kept in the direction of travel. It may also aid in
keeping the envelope full.
- Sensitive Zone - a restricted operation zone where balloon launchings and landings may be
allowed by the landowner under special circumstances. In some cases, a minimum altitude restriction may also exist.
- Skirt - the cloth segment of the envelope
below the load cable connections, frequently detachable, often
made of Nomex or similar fire-resistant material.
and dash - a fun and exciting maneuver balloonists make when flying
over a body of water. Balloon pilots have precise control of their altitude,
which allows them to bring the bottom of the basket to the surface of
the water. This provides a unique opportunity for passengers to
take a photo of themselves in the reflection cast off the water's surface.
If the wind is calm when a splash and dash is done in a river, the current
will move the balloon, causing them to float gently downstream. When
the pilot has had his fun, he will simply add heat and back to the sky
they will rise. A balloon flight can be compared to a magic carpet ride,
and a splash and dash is like walking on water
- Spotter - someone who delights in collecting balloon licence numbers, badges and anoraks.
- Supports - see poles.
- SZ - see sensitive zone.
- the securing of the balloon to the ground and raising it up to
- Throat - See mouth.
- Thumbs Up - The signal from a launch director that the airspace above is clear and you have permission to launch. Any digit other than the thumb means something entirely different.
- Weather Rock - Any smooth stone thrown at the weatherman when he tells you it's going to be unflyable again.
- Zebedee List - the for sale/wanted list for second hand
balloons and balloon equipment.