The Anatomy of Hot Air Balloons | SCHAWK!

A hot air balloon may be the very definition
of the term intended beauty.

At Beck, we believe that beauty is not accidental; it is the result of aesthetic passion and process focus. A hot air balloon is a marvel of creativity and science that captivates attention when it rises above the horizon. We are taken in by its elegance, size, shape and color. Yet, it is science that gives it flight and transports beauty into something truly magical.

Hot air balloons are the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. Capable of incredible altitude and even circumnavigation, they are built and guided with incredible expertise.

Air control enables balloons to speed up, climb or descend, and they stay afloat as a result of a constant stream of heated air. Still, direction and loft are subject to the movement of the wind and the temperature of the air.

Hot air balloons fall into three main categories, each defined by its heat source:

  1. A Montgolfier is a standard balloon, reliant solely on the buoyancy of hot air provided by the burner and contained by the envelope.
  2. A Hybrid (or Rozière) balloon has a separate cell for helium and a cone below for hot air to heat the helium.
  3. A Solar balloon relies entirely on sun energy captured by a dark envelope to heat the air inside.

Regardless of form, the general construction of any hot air balloon is fundamentally the same. The beautiful part of the balloon, the envelope, is most clearly where science and art merge. Colorful and creative to view, it is a carefully built fire-resistant coated nylon bag that transforms heated air (most often from a burner) into flight. The gondola is a wicker or aluminum basket that carries an average of four passengers and includes a heat source responsible for flight.

For more than a century, Beck has elevated brand images above the landscape. The elegant, technological beauty of the hot air balloon aptly captures what we do. Creating and elevating images is best done by focused experts through a marriage of process and art. For both endeavors, when done well, beauty can reach its greatest potential height.


December 14, 1782
First hot air balloon created (Montgolfier brothers) for first untethered manned flight.

November 21, 1783
First untethered manned flight (Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes in Paris).

First “modern” hot air balloons featuring an onboard heat source.

October 22, 1960
First successful flight (Ed Yost) of a modern hot air balloon.

June 6, 1988
First world record for highest hot air balloon flight (64,997ft) set by Per Lindstrand of Plano, Texas.

November 26, 2005
World altitude record broken by Vijaypat Singhania of Mumbai, India (68,986ft).

January 15, 1991
World record set for the longest flight in a hot air balloon. The Virgin Pacific Flyer manned by Per Lindstrand and Richard Branson flew 4,767.10mi from Japan to Northern Canada. The Pacific Flyer also recorded the fastest ground speed, at 245 mph.

March 1-21, 1999
First nonstop trip around the world by balloon (left from Château-d’Oex, Switzerland). Flown by Bertrand Piccard and Briton
Brian Jones, the Breitling Orbiter 3 broke distance, endurance and time records.

July 3, 2002
Steve Fossett first broke the record for the briefest time traveling around the world, traveling 19 days, 21 hours, 55 minutes.
Prior to his death, he broke his own records, and today still stands as the fastest circumnavigation in a hot air balloon.