Whether you want to start a balloon rental business or you’re a wealthy person and want to get one for entertainment purpose, you might be wondering how much does a hot air balloon cost.
General information on hot air balloons
Their first purpose was air travel. Hot air balloons were invented before airplanes and at some point, they were the only way humans could travel by air. Two brothers were the ones that invented this ingenious way to travel by air, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier. Their first public demonstration was back in 1783 and has been recorded as a success.
Since nowadays airplanes are a safer and faster way to travel, hot air balloons are only used for recreation, entertainment, and sightseeing purposes. They represent a great business opportunity, as a lot of people rent hot air balloons, especially during vacations.
If you rent a hot air balloon while on vacation, you probably won’t be able to drive it yourself, and that’s great because these types of balloons can easily reach altitudes of over 2,000 feet. You really don’t want to fall from that height. A world record stands at an altitude of around 65,000 feet.
How Much Will a Hot Air Balloon Cost?
If you don’t want to rent such a balloon, but instead choose to buy it at full price, its cost would be something to worry about. As most flying devices and vehicles, this balloon is pretty expensive and will hit your budget considerably.
This means that you should buy a hot air balloon only if you are very rich, or if you get it as an investment, planning to start a balloon rental business. If you just want to casually fly with such a device during vacations, it will be a better idea to just rent one. For the final cost of the balloon, you will get a full flight system that consists of the basket, known as a gondola, the burners, the necessary fuel, the inflation fan used to inflate the balloon, and the actual balloon, also known as the envelope.
A normal, very light hot air balloon will set you back around $15,000 to $25,000, and that won’t include the fire extinguisher and fuel.
Its main balloon or envelope, if bought individually, will also have a high price, of around $9,000 to $11,000. Although it is high priced, you shouldn’t try to avoid the extra expense by making the envelope yourself, as the reason behind its high cost is the very strong and light fabric it is built of. The basket alone will cost around $5,500 if it can hold around 3 people or 150 kg. This includes the pilot, so remember this, when you plan to rent a balloon.
The basket can be bought with one or two built-in chairs. The number of chairs on the basket will have an influence on the final price, adding anywhere from $700 to $2,000.
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And that’s not all; your balloon won’t work without parts like the inflation fan, fuel cylinder, and burner, so be sure to take those into account too. The price of an inflation fan will start at $1,000 and can go a lot higher, depending on the model and make you pick. The fuel cylinder will set you back another $1,000 at least, while the burner will cost even more, around $4,500 – $5,500.
Based on the costs we gave you above and on our research, we made a list of prices you could expect when you want to buy a hot air balloon with all accessories included and ready to fly:
- A normal balloon made of a bigger envelope and a basket that can hold 3 passengers with 3 chairs included and everything it needs to fly will cost at least $25,000
- A smaller balloon that has a medium-sized envelope and a basket for 2 passengers with chairs and everything else included will likely cost $24,000 to $24,500
- The smallest version of a hot air balloon, that instead of a basket has a chair for the pilot alone, will likely cost slightly over $21,000
Another ongoing cost that you should take into account, is the price of insurance, anywhere from $300 to $1,500 per year. If you don’t have any experience in flying hot air balloons, then you should probably hire a pilot or take a course, to be sure you know what you’re doing when you’re high in the air. People also hire a team to help them inflate the balloon and also give important data from the ground.
You should also take into account the fact that in the US you will need a license to drive a hot air balloon for commercial purposes but also for personal usage. To get the license you will go through an extensive inspection of your balloon, which can take 100 hours.
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To get your pilot license, you will have to take a written test followed by a practical one. You will first need to take a few balloon flying courses at an FFA accredited school and the full price of the license can be anywhere from $1,000 to $4,500, depending on the school you opt for and on whether or not you use your own balloon for the classes.
Another ongoing cost to take into account is the price of regular inspections of your balloon and all accessories used. These are a must, to ensure that you will be safe while flying your balloon. These costs can range from $200 to $500. Remember that while flying that high, one accident could be all it takes for a tragedy to happen, so don`t overlook these inspections
If you want to customize your hot air balloon, you should know that there are companies that could assist you. If you’re buying this type of balloon as an investment, to rent it, then it should be a good idea to place advertisements and promotions on it, along with your contact details. The customization of your balloon depends on a lot of factors, like the size of the advertisement, the type of envelope, and so on.
If you don’t have the necessary funds to get a new balloon, then you have the possibility of getting a second hand or used one. Although a lot cheaper, with a price of around $5,000 to $10,000 or more, used balloons have their downsides. For example, they aren’t as reliable as new ones, as you can’t know how much they were driven and how much more will the envelope and other parts last. If you are set on getting a second hand one, be sure to bring a professional with you, that can assess the product and give you confidence that you will buy a working, well-maintained balloon.
Should the average working Joe buy a hot air balloon?
If you only plan to ride such a balloon once or occasionally, then the best idea is to rent one. If you’re thinking of starting a balloon rental business, then be sure you have the necessary funds to get everything you’ll need, as the balloon won’t be able to fly without all accessories and you won’t be allowed to, without all the paperwork.
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Being such an expensive item, remember that there’s always room for negotiation and discounts, so don’t settle for the advertised price. Owning a hot air balloon is a great way to create life long memories and a great income stream, so if you do have the necessary funds to get one and have a passion for these types of balloons, then you won’t regret getting one.