Balloon Flights

How Ballooning Works

Hot air balloon flight is the application of basic scientific principles. Here we discuss how this balloon rises, fall and how the pilot is able to manoeuvre it when he is flying.

Because hot air is lighter than cool air because of the mass per unit of volume, during trips the balloon rises. If you've ever taken a dive into a pool, you may have felt this effect in water: the surface water is warm, but as you move deeper, the water gets cooler. That's because warm water is lighter than cool water and tends to rise to the top, like air.

The larger the balloon (also called the ‘envelope’) the larger the amount of hot air is needed to lift it off the ground. A cubic foot of air within a balloon can lift about seven grams of weight. This isn't a lot of weight, which is why the balloon has to be so big. For example: to lift 1000 pounds of weight, you would need at least 65,000 cubic feet of heated air. In order to lift the balloon of the ground, this air is propelled into the envelope to help it rise.

A balloon is made up of three parts:

The envelope, which is the fabric that the balloon is made of.
The burner, which pumps in the hot air.
The basket, where the passengers and pilot stand.
To move the balloon upwards, the burner is used to regulate the hot air to make the balloon rise and cold air to control the landing.

The pilot manoeuvres the balloon in the air horizontally by changing the vertical position as wind blows in different direction at different altitudes. So to change direction, the balloon goes up or down to the flow of the wind in that particular direction and rides with the wind. If a pilot has a good working knowledge of the wind currents in the area, she can raise and lower the balloon to catch a current moving in the right direction. Still, piloting a balloon isn't an exact science. It's impossible to target the precise location where you'll land. That's why it's usually necessary for someone on the ground to follow the balloon by car to meet the balloon where it lands and transport the equipment.

Launching and landing generally takes more effort than actually flying during a trip. The inflation process takes only about ten or fifteen minutes, and is done with a powerful fan. Once the balloon is full of air it will still lie on the ground until the burner is fired, heating the air in the envelope and causing it to rise.

Hot air balloons come in different sizes to accommodate a certain amount of passengers. The compartment where the pilot stands and the other compartments are split into even sections so that the passengers are separated from the canisters and the pilot and generally to spread weight evenly over the basket so that the balloon remains stable.

Today propane is used in the burner to heat the air. This is stored into cylinders which are kept in the basket. Propane is a liquid compressed into the canisters and flows to the burner in liquid form. This gas produces a powerful flame and is far more efficient on fuel consumption.

The envelope is the actual balloon and is made of long strips of nylon and polyester. These materials are coated with a material that makes the balloon extremely airtight and durable. Nylon is very lightweight and has a high melting temperature, which makes the balloon, light and safe for flight. So why doesn't the hot air escape through the hole at the lower end? Simple: buoyancy. Hot air is buoyant, which means it can only rise-it can't sink and drain out the bottom of the balloon. As long as the air stays hot, it will continue to rise. It won't rise forever, though. The atmosphere thins as it goes up, and eventually the air within the envelope is too thin to support the weight of the balloon. The more air within the balloon, the greater the buoyancy-so bigger balloons can go higher than smaller ones.

Today there are numerous hot air balloon flight challenges around the word where pilots challenge each other with this unique form of flying and there have been a number of world records. There's nothing like soaring over the earth in a balloon. Hot air balloon flight is exciting, fascinating, and pure fun. If you've never been on a trip, you're missing out on the experience of a lifetime!

Interesting Historical facts about Hot Air Ballooning

The first balloon that launched was called “Aerostat Reveillon, and was piloted by Pilatre De Rozier, a scientist on the 19th of September 1783 and his passengers were a duck, a rooster and a sheep.
The birth of hot air ballooning came about in the centre of Paris on 21 November 1783 and was made by two brothers Jospeh and Etienne Montgolfier. The balloon was in the air for a total of 20 minutes.
A swiss scientist called Auguste Piccard was the first to achieve a altitude of 52,498 feet setting the new record - now the race was on to see who could reach the highest point.
Richard Branson was the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon and flew 2,900 miles in a record breaking time of 33 hours.
For the last 50 years Hot air ballooning has evolved from burning materials onboard to helium and gas as this makes the flight safer and more reliable.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions about our trips, or hot air balloon flights in general.


What to Expect

Our Magaliesburg hot air ballooning adventures take off from one of the well-established lodges in the Magaliesburg region. This is one most sought-after destinations in South Africa and, as such, it has gained popularity with visitors from around the globe.

Situated a mere 40 minutes' drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, the picturesque Magaliesburg valley boasts an array of beautiful lodges that serve as accommodation for visitors who come here to soak up the pristine beauty of the region. This is one of the most stunning places in South Africa to spoil yourself, your loved ones, colleagues or clients with an adventure they will never forget.



Despite common misconceptions, the weather in South Africa is not always sunny and hot. Different regions throughout our fair country experience extremely cold and wet weather respectively. The Magaliesburg region is located in a summer rainfall area and, as such, is not prone to heavy winter rainfall.

The area normally receives about 546mm of rain per year, with most rainfall occurring mainly during midsummer. The average midday temperatures for Magaliesburg range from 17.3°C in June to 27.4°C in January. The region is the coldest during July when the mercury drops to 0.6°C on average during the night.

Hot air balloons are extremely weather-dependant. It is not safe to fly in windy or rainy weather. It is also important to meet at the time indicated by us upon booking in order to avoid any unnecessary thermals and turbulence that can occur after sunrise. Due to bad conditions or weather changes the pilot might cancel your flight on the launch site or, in some cases, even the night before.

We do not want to inconvenience or disappoint anyone, but we do regard the safety of our passengers as the highest priority. The decision of the pilot is final and should be respected. In cases where it was necessary to cancel a flight we will take all measures possible to move the date of the flight to one that will accommodates all passengers.

If we do fly it is recommended that you dress warmly, in layers that you can take off as the day gets warmer. Ladies should ideally wear long pants and flat heeled shoes. Taller passengers may bring a hat if they are concerned about radial heat from the balloon’s burners, although this is normally not a problem. Synthetic fibres should be avoided and it is recommended that outer clothing worn should be made of cotton. These are merely suggestions, however, and may be discussed in more detail when you are making your booking.

If you have any further questions with regard to the weather in South Africa and how it may impact on your ballooning adventure, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.


Gift Vouchers

A hot air balloon gift voucher is the perfect gift for a special occasion. Whether it be a birthday, an anniversary, or any other special occasion, the gift of an “experience of a lifetime” is the ideal way to celebrate.
Our Gift Vouchers include tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival at the balloon launch site, a Scenic Flight of approximately an hour, Sparkling Wine and Orange Juice upon landing, Breakfast at a fine Country Lodge, and Flight Certificates presented by the pilot.

To make the payment for the gift voucher as easy as possible, we only require a 50% deposit for the voucher to be issued, with the remaining 50 % due 7 days prior to the booked flight date. Vouchers are valid for a period of 12 months.

We also cater for corporate and incentive events and can customise the vouchers with corporate branding.


Corporate Events

The city is a fast-paced, kill-or-be-killed environment, which is why corporate team building in Johannesburg has become vital for every business. The extremely competitive nature in almost all markets means that employees are under constant pressure, and if they don't have an outlet, or a way to get closer to fellow workers, team morale and productivity will inevitably become deflated. Not only this, but management will also not get to know the true nature and competitiveness of each employee.

Balloon flights are an ideal form of teambuilding and a great adventure to share. As a sport, hot air ballooning is an intriguing combination of personal challenge, adventure, romance, the unknown, colour and fun. There is something about experiencing mankind's oldest form of aviation, suspended beneath a colourful canopy of hot air, which allows participants to feel something truly amazing. It is bound to be a hit with any group.

Not only is this a superb activity for you to enjoy with staff, but it's also an ideal way to entertain your clients. Sweating on a golf course and losing by default may work for some, but why not stand out a little? Alternatively, why not offer a trip as an incentive to reward someone for their outstanding work - while sparking some competition at the same time.

Book your spot on a Sun Fun Africa Safari flight and experience the very best service that the South African ballooning industry has to offer. We are more than willing to accommodate special requests when it comes to corporate team building in Gauteng, such as decorating the launch site with your corporate colours, branding, etc. Simply contact us to discuss your requests and we will do our utmost to comply.