ICAO Level 6 Vocabulary: Hot Air Balloon Description

Imagine you’re presented with a picture of a hot air balloon and your task is to describe it in detail. The problem is you really want to say something but this subject maybe isn’t near and dear to your heart or maybe you haven’t talked about ballooning for ages so you may need some suggestions on what phrases, words and grammar could work more than good in these circumstances.

Hot air balloons

First of all, it’ll be good not to repeat constantly ‘hot air balloon’. Instead, you may say:

– unpressurized aircraft,

– floating vehicles,

– lighter-than-air aircraft,

– airship.

Some hot air balloons are tethered, captive or moored which means they are attached to the ground and cannot float freely.

You can add also some an extra flavor to your description by emphasizing its uniqueness or an aspect of creativity – novelty hot air ballooning are the ones with an eye-catching design or well-known cultural icons, mascots, etc. You can also describe them as ‘odd-shaped balloons’ or ‘fun-shaped balloons’.

Novelty hot air balloons


Facts and a glimpse of history

– The first successful human-carrying flight technology was introduced,

– Firstly, only tethered hot-air balloon flights were performed,

– Hot air balloons use hot air to generate buoyancy = A hot air balloon works on the same principle of buoyancy.

– These aircraft can circumnavigate around the globe,

– “The lift has to counter-balance the weight of the balloon and the basket in order for it to rise off the floor.” (Quora)

– A lift-off should be allowed under the predicted wind conditions and stable air temperature so after sunshine or before sunset,

– Balloons are launching to the skies (during a new world record attempt.),

– Hundreds of hot air balloons take off at once in order to break the world record. (…) balloons floated skywards in unison.” (The Telegraph),

– There’s a remarkable and picturesque chance to see hot air balloons illuminated at night and it’s called either ‘a night glow’ or ‘balloon glow’ as they are purposefully lit up making a spectacular display when the burners are periodically ignited.

A night glow or balloon glow at fairs or organized balloon events around the country

A night glow or balloon glow

Parts of a hot air balloon

Yep, I think it’s essential to know the basic parts of a hot air balloon.

Let’s take a look together at these two pictures that show:

Hot air balloon parts

– A balloon is heated up by a burner but before you need to lay out and inflate the envelope,

– Then, you need to propel heat into the envelope,

– A hot air balloon needs a suitable take-off point and a (veteran / longtime) balloonist has to avoid thermals.

Types of hot air balloons

Finally, there are several different types of hot air balloons. Take a look at the graphic below:

Types of balloons: Bulbous balloon, diagonal gore, straight gore envelope, straight cut gore

– Bulbous balloon,

Diagonal gore,

– Smooth gore envelope,

– Straight-cut gore.

If you want to read more details about these types of balloons, click here.


I hope this blog post turned out to be helpful to you and brought value to your learning process. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions what kind of any other topic I should add to “How to say it” blog post series. I’d be more than grateful for any suggestion 🙂

Hot air balloons display

Instagram Online Dictionary – Summary

Here you can download a summary of my Instagram Stories that were available in December 2018. Click a miniature to download your PDF.

Instagram Aviation English dictionary hot air balloons