We have already seen the oldest balloons ever made, now we look at something a little bigger. The average size of a hot-air balloon is 2,180 cubic m/7 7,000 cubic ft, so these listed below are all big balloons indeed! Larger helium balloons, usually flown unmanned, have been constructed, as well as unregistered hot-air balloons (which are consequently prohibited from making untethered Heights), but this list only includes registered hot-air balloons capable of a free passenger-carrying flight. Several of them are recordholders! These days hot-air balloons are smaller and lighter that they ever were and can float for even longer. But once upon a time it was considered the bigger the better was what made hot-air balloons fly longer and there was some monster sized balloons made…
10 – Safaris Balloon (Capacity: 300,000 cubic ft)
An air balloon is a lighter than air aircraft consisting of a bag, called an envelope, which contains heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule), which carries passengers and (usually) a source of heat, in most cases an open flame. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the colder air outside the envelope.
9 – Safaris Balloon (Capacity: 300,000 cubic ft)
A gas balloon is a balloon that flies in the air because it is filled with a gas less dense than air or lighter than air (such as helium or hydrogen). It is tied to a thread to prevent it from flying up in the air. It is also sealed at the bottom to ensure that the gas doesn’t escape. A gas balloon may also be called a Charlière for its inventor, the Frenchman Jacques Charles.
8 – Julian Nott Balloon (Capacity: 375,000 cubic ft)
Today, familiar gas balloons include large blimps and small rubber party balloons. Blimps have displaced zeppelins (which are not balloons) as the dominant form of airship.
7 – ICI Balloon (Capacity: 375,000 cubic ft)
The ICI balloon, Innovation, piloted by Julian Nott, and Nott’s own balloon, both held the hot-air balloon altitude record at different times; in fact, the ICI record 01163805 m/55, 137 it (over 16km/10 miles) still stands.
6 – Virgin Balloon (Capacity: 400,000 cubic ft)
Both Virgin balloons (the second of which was a practice balloon) were built by Colt; all the others were built by Cameron, the British company that is the world’s largest, making some 45% of the world ’s hot-air balloons.
5 – Heineken Balloon (Capacity: 500,000 cubic ft)
A gas balloon can also be tethered. Aerophile is the world’s largest lighter-than-air carrier, flying 300,000 passengers every year through its eight operations in Walt Disney World, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Smoky Mountains & Irvine in the USA and Paris, Disneyland Paris and Parc du Petit Prince in France.
4 – Semiramis Balloon (Capacity: 530,000 cubic ft)
Gas balloons remained popular throughout the age before powered flight. They could fly higher and further than hot-air balloons, but were more dangerous as they were filled with hydrogen or coal gas. Tethered gas balloons were used for observation purposes in the Napoleonic Wars (to very limited extent) and in the American Civil War, flown by Thaddeus Lowe and throughout the 19th century by hobbyists and show performers such as the Blanchards.
3 – Nashua Balloon (Capacity: 850,000 cubic ft)
The Nashua balloon holds the record for carrying the greatest number of people (50) in a hot-air balloon. The last two balloons in the list (and two other identical balloons) are used in Kenya to take passengers on safari.
2 – Zanussi Balloon (Capacity: 850,000 cubic ft)
Donald Cameron in Zanussi (a combined helium and hot-air balloon) almost achieved the same feat, but fell short by 166 km/103 miles on 30 July 1978 (shortly before Double Eagle II became the first helium balloon to cross the Atlantic.
1 – Virgin Balloon (Capacity: 2,250,000 cubic ft)
Number 1 is the balloon in which Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand crossed the Atlantic on 2/3 July 1987 the first to do so in a hot-air balloon.