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FMI: Balloon Federation of America

Hot air balloonists learn unique methods to steer their aircraft—they change direction by climbing or descending into air currents that flow in the direction in which the balloonist wants to travel. Altitude changes are made by activating burners to heat air inside the balloon envelope or by allowing the air to cool naturally. Since the temperature and density differential between the air inside and outside of the balloon determine whether the balloon climbs or descends, the ability to control temperature inside the balloon is critical to flight. Landing is accomplished by allowing the air inside the balloon to cool and establishing a controlled descent to an area free of obstructions.

As with gliders, the minimum age to solo a balloon is 14. So for those wanting to get started with flight training and fly solo before the powered flight age requirement of 16, ballooning may be the way to go.

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