Gila and Salt River Base and Meridian Hot Air Balloon and Airship Ascension Social Society, Inc.
Established 1975 as the
Arizona Balloon Club
How high can a balloon fly?
Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR 91.119): Except when necessary for takeoff and landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following minimums:
Over Congested Areas - Click Here;
Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obsticle with a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
Over Other Than Congested Areas - Click Here;
An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparcely populated areas.
Sparcely Populated Areas - Click Here;
In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
Note - Click Here;
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not specifically define congested area, other than congested area, or sparcely populated area.
Helicopters - Click Here;
Helicopters may operate below the prescribed minimums FAR 91.119(d)(1).
Fudge Factor: FAR 91.119(a) - Click Here;
An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface. Editor's note: For a balloon that is close to the ground.
What is the maximum altitude for a balloon?
Ambient (outside air) Temperature - Click Here;
Temperatures between 30 degrees and 60 degrees (F) are ideal for ballooning. Low fuel pressure is a problem in cold weather requiring either warming the tanks or injecting nitrogen into the tanks. High temperatures requires reducing the passenger load.
Envelope (the nylon part) Temperature - Click Here;
Excessive heat inside the envelope damages the fabric. Balloon seldom fly with an envelope temperature above 250 (F).
Balloon Weight - Click Here;
Sport balloons typically weigh between 600 pounds and 900 pounds. Big balloons, above 180,000 cubic feet, used by ride companies weigh well over 1,000 pounds.
Passenger Weight - Click Here;
Sport balloons typically carry two or sometimes three passengers. A good rule-of-thumb is to estimate 160 pounds per person. So a pilot and two passengers would weigh in at 480 pounds.
Envelope Size - Click Here;
Most sport balloons are 90,000 cubic feet or less.
Altitude Calculator - click on the list above for reasonable values.
Formula courtesy of Cameron Balloons US.