Fun facts about hot air balloons:
* When hot-air balloons bump into each other in the air, they call it "kissing." It's perfectly safe; each balloon just sort of bounces off the other one.
* The first hot-air balloon was launched by the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph Michel & Jacques-Entienne, in 1783 in Versailles, France. It's first passengers consisted of a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. The same brothers later made the first manned flight, piloted by Francois Laurent & Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier. Using straw as a fuel, they scooped it into the burner containing hot coals with pitchforks. They managed to fly about 5 miles in 25 minutes.
* Today's burners use propane gas as a fuel.
* Hot air balloons usually fly about 1,000 feet off the ground. They can go much higher, but if they go too high (above 12,000 to 13,000 feet), there's not enough oxygen in the air for passengers to breathe.
* Riding a hot air balloon has been compared to floating on a cloud.
* Balloonists use the wind to control where they're going. The winds at different altitudes take them in different directions, so pilots will go up or down trying to find winds that will blow them in a particular direction. Balloonists check the winds before they take off and while in the air (aloft), and they use maps to find a safe spot to land. Pilots usually have a spot to land picked out beforehand, and ask the landowners for permission in advance.
* Pilots try to fly when the wind is very calm, usually either around sunrise or just before sunset. If the wind speed on the ground is more than about 7 M.P.H., it's too dangerous and they won't fly. Hot air balloons generally travel at around 10 miles per hour, since the wind speed is faster at higher altitudes. Balloon rides generally last one to two hours.
* There are about 7,500 hot air balloons in the U.S., and balloon festivals are held in just about every area allover the country.
* In 2002, American adventurer Steve Fossett made a 14-day round-the-world trip in a balloon. It was powered by a combination of hot air and helium, a type of gas.
Dumb jokes that little kids might like:
* What is the balloon's least favorite music? Pop songs!
*Why did the balloon burst? Because it saw a Lollipop.
*What don't balloons like to drink? Soda pop!
Did you know . . .