It doesn’t get much more mobile than taking off in a basket and going wherever the wind takes you, so I jumped at the chance to go to a local hot air balloon festival and see what technology balloon pilots use while in the air.
The actual tech varies from pilot to pilot, and can be as simple as a strap on flight control instrument to a laptop and smartphone.
Dennis Hall of Howell Michigan was kind enough to take me up in the Perfect Calm, his 77,000 cubic foot hot air balloon which measures 57 feet tall and 56 feet wide. Surprisingly, this colorful craft weighs in at 800 pounds, before the pilot and passenger get on board.
Hot Air Balloon Technology Video
As you can see in the video, Dennis uses two easy to read and straightforward instruments to know where we are and what is going on with the balloon. I was glad that there wasn’t an iPad or notebook with a glossy display which was critical to our safety since the sun was quite bright.
If Dennis wanted to use a slate or a notebook in this area, I would recommend a rugged Motion tablet. This would be good for a professional balloon pilot, but a bit pricey for someone who is in it for the love of flying.
Some pilots will use a laptop or smartphone in addition to the basic instrumentation, but this is a perfect example of using the right tech for the job. Dennis, who is a hobbyist, has chosen the equipment that works best for him.
Those of us who use technology in our daily lives. this is an important lesson to keep in mind. If you are in Ohio, the Flag City Balloonfest runs through the weekend in Findlay Ohio. For more on the Perfect Calm, check out the balloon’s webpage.