The competitive events in a balloon competition are called tasks. Several tasks are specified for each flight. The tasks for a particular day are determined before flight begins, after assessments of the weather and other factors. The tasks do not involve a competition based on time, distance, or altitude. Rather, competition is based on how accurately the pilots can fly the rudderless balloons to approach the target. This competition involves catching the wind moving in the direction of the target and accurately approaching the target within the designated competitive area. The balloons do not land on the target itself. Crew members aboard the balloons drop markers onto the target. The markers are small sandbags with streamers attached. Some balloons skim just above the ground, while others may be 1000 feet in the air. The straight-line distance between the spot where the target lands and the target itself is measured. Those balloonists whose markers have landed the shortest distances from the target are awarded the most points.
|[Important Factors in Competition]
Catching the wind
Pilots must accurately gauge the timing, direction, and strength of the winds, and be able to forecast changes in the winds.
Reading the Maps
The pilots must have a good understanding of the competition area based on the rules of the competition. They must be able to gauge the effect of wind drafts resulting from topological conditions and other factors.
Hot air balloons are not piloted by one person. Teamwork is an indispensable part of the competition. It comes into play during pursuit by a car on the ground during the competition, and as the race develops. Accurate information from the ground is very important for the pilot.
The only way to control a hot air balloon is by operating the burner. Operation of the burner is very easy, so any nervousness or emotional tension will have an immediate impact on the balloon's flight. Pilots must control their emotions so they can demonstrate their abilities with an even temperament at all times.
Points are awarded in each category, and the balloon with the most aggregate points wins. Therefore, it is important that crews do not fail by trying to score too many points in any one category. The manner of scoring points is also important.
Judge Declared Goal
Competition balloons will fly to the goal, which the competition committee set before and 4 to 6 km away from a take-off site. The goal has 5 meters length target and competitors will drop their markers to the centre of target. A pilot who drop his marker at the closest point to the target will be awarded as the 1st.
It is similar to the Judge Declared Goal, but several targets will be used, not one. A competitor will select one of targets and drop his marker to the center of target.
Pilot Declared Goal
A competitor flies and drops his marker at the goal which he declared as his goal before his take-off. He must forecast directions and velocity of winds and read a map correctly. It is a very hard task to evaluate competitor"s talent through various ways.
A pilot drops his marker after a certain time period, such as 30 minutes or 45 minutes. A shortest distance between his marker and the cnetre of target which is set at the launch site will be scored as the first place. How to stay at the sky above the launch site or how to come back to the launch site is the key to win.
Minimum Distance Double Drop
A pilot drop two markers at the different two areas. The shortest distance of two markers will awarded as the 1st place.
Maximum Distance Double Drop
A pilot drop two markers. The longest distance of two markers will awarded as the 1st place.
Fly on task
This competition task shall be done with the other task. A pilot drops his marker after writing his next goal. It looks like the Pilot Declared Goal task.
Fly in task
The competition committee choose one site as the goal. They usually set the goal at the launch site.
A competitor will take off from anywhere allowed distance away from the goal at their own tactics.
Calculated Rating Access Task
The competition committee set a target in the launch site as the Fly in Task. A competitor take off from anywhere allowed distance away and drop his marker, but the these areas are defined by time and each area has its own timing. A pilot has to fly with time calculation to arrive at the goal on time.
Results of competitors are calculated by distances between markers and goals or targets. A pilot who drops his marker at the closest point to the target will be scored 1000 points. Score of superior 50 pilots will be calculated by their distance results. It means if a competitor"s result is closer to the first placed pilot will be awarded closer to 1000 points. 50 th pilots will have about 510 points and inferior 50 competitors will be score about 10 points reduction from 510 points without consideration of his distance.
Task results will be published after input all data of competitors and it takes 5 or 6 hours after the end of competition flight.
[The Anatomy of a Hot Air Balloon]
Hot air is lighter than cold air. This is the principle that allows a hot air balloon to fly. A large bag, called the envelope, is filled with air. This air becomes lighter when heated. The lighter hot air provides buoyancy, which enables flight. A hot air balloon is comprised of a envelope,basket, and burner. The average balloon for a crew of three or four people has about 2,000 cubic meters of volume, is 17 meters in diameter and 24 meters high, and weighs from 200-250 kilograms.The envelope has an exhaust air valve for adjusting buoyancy. The balloon is also equipped with an altimeter, a statoscope, a radio, and other devices.
A hot air balloon is comprised mostly of the envelope. Other than the
heat-resistant cloth for the aperture at the lower end, balloons are made of
synthetic fibers such as nylon and tetron. The latter material is identical
to that used in yacht Spinakers or down jackets. The envelope is shaped like
an inverted light bulb with a more stylish appearance. This was to obtain
the greatest buoyancy with a smaller surface area, considering the fixed
interior volume. The envelope is designed to inflate well without developing
wrinkles or tears on the surface.
The burner is referred to as the heart of the balloon. It burns liquid propane gas that is 150 times more powerful than that used in the home. There are two burner systems. If one of the systems can no longer be used during flight,the other system can be used right away. The burner is not always switched on. Rather, it is turned on and off during flight. It is switched on for longer periods when ascending and switched off for longer periods when descending. For example, a burner will be switched on for five seconds and switched off for five seconds when ascending, and switched on for five seconds and switched off for 10 seconds during horizontal flight. When descending, the burner is switched on for five seconds and switched off for 15 seconds.
The basket is the section of the balloon where the crew rides. It is made of rattan, because this material cushions the impact of landing. Most baskets are square, though some are triangular. A basket for a balloon with a crew of three or four people is one meter deep, 1.2 meters wide, and one meter high. The basket is loaded with four 20-kilogram tanks of liquid propane gas, enabling a flight of about two hours.