Initial Cost of a Balloon –
The cost of a new balloon is about the same as a medium priced car: $35,000 to $50,000.
What Affects the Price –
Single of double burner;
Size of the envelope (the nylon part);
Number of colors and design of the envelope;
Size and type of basket;
Number and size of fuel tanks;
Special Shapes –
Special shapes, like the balloon pictured, are much more expensive often costing well over $100,000.
Used Equipment –
Fortunately there is plenty of good used equipment out there in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. And just like a used car the initial cost will be lower but the ongoing maintenance expenses will be higher.
A good chase vehicle is the next big expense:
Truck or Trailer –
About half of the balloonist in Phoenix use pickup trucks and the other half use trailers.
Type of Truck –
The pickup trucks tend to be 3/4 ton or 1 ton with crew cabs and big engines. Lighter weight trucks just don’t hold up well because of the heavy loads and the long drives to balloon events, such as to Monument Valley in extreme north eastern Arizona. Also most of the chasing is off road so the vehicle takes a pounding.
Vehical to Tow Trailer –
Balloonists with trailers tend to drive large SUVs for the same reason. Minivans don’t hold up well.
Maintenance & Repair –
Vehicle maintenance and repairs are one of the hidden expenses of ballooning. Shocks and tires and air filters need to be replaced much more often.
Other One-Time Expenses –
Inflator fan – $500 to $1,000;
VHF radios – $200 to $500. Federal Communication Commission licenses are available to all Arizona Balloon Club members free of charge;
Leather gloves for crew – $100;
Good GPS Unit – $250. Smart phones now have so many cool aps these days that a separate GPS unit may not be necessary;
Ongoing Expenses –
Insurance – $1,500 to $2,000 per year;
Annual inspection – $400 to $500 plus any repairs;
Propane – 15 to 20 gallons per flight. At today’s prices of about $3.00 per gallon: $45 yo $60;
Gas for vehicle – $50 for local flights. A couple of hundred for travel to events in California, Utah, Colorado, or New Mexico;
Soda, water, munchies, and a tailgate for crew after each flight.