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Racer Hot Air Balloons for Competition

In the last decade, there has been a growing trend towards building racer-style hot air balloons suitable for National and World-class competition. Although Thunder Balloons began offering a tall, narrower envelope in the mid 1970's (the Bolt), there had not been a purpose-built competition balloon introduced until the early 2000's when Lindstrand, Cameron and Ultramagic introduced each of their own variants of the same basic concept.

A competition envelope was needed which could endure the often rapid and sometimes freakish ascents and descents seen during heavy competition. The answer to this necessity was a taller, thinner envelope profile compared to a traditional "natural shape" hot air balloon.

These new racer envelopes offer improved vertical performance, more stability during in-flight maneuvers, and greatly improved fuel economy. Ascents and descents in the range of 1400-1800 feet per minute have more or less become routine. There is less vertical dishing or pancaking of the envelope because of the slimmer profile, which allows faster and more stable descents.

The reason for the greater fuel economy is because control inputs are magnified to a considerable extent due to the smaller horizontal surface area and taller shape of the envelope. In real world terms, racers are a little more unstable in level flight. They tend to begin descents or ascents easier, much like a tall special shape balloon.

It takes very little venting to get a racer into a quickening descent. A steep descent can be maintained just a few degrees below equilibrium. Because of that, descents can be arrested with short blasts on the burner when desired. This attribute greatly improves fuel economy for competitive flights where lots of vertical maneuvers are to be seen.

Apex Balloons can manufacture any possible size, design and style of racer hot air balloon. From perfectly flat panels to the most extreme bulbous gores, any combination of styles can be built - although a smoother surface is best. We specialize in a completely custom design to fit your requirements, preferences, or even guilty pleasures.

Please contact us with any requirements or design suggestions you may have.


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