So much has been said about “big toys for big boys”. But just like any other “toys”, considering buying a hot air balloon is like considering buying a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a Rolex watch, a Campervan or even a BMW Convertible. Very expensive and bordering to extravagance. But like all other luxuries in the world, your purchases will all depend on your preference.
Before buying a hot air balloon, think about what purpose you would use it for.
We are talking about the following: will you use it for private leisure, for family recreation, for business, or for competition?
To better understand the cost of one, we have broken down estimated cost according to size, design, accessories, capacity, and components.
Average Cost of Hot Air Balloon
The average hot air balloon price ranges from $16,700 up to as high as $400,000 depending on the capacity, size, and design, among others.
Super light hot air balloon for a single person would cost $16,700 to $17,900, consisting of the envelope or the main big balloon, the gondola or basket, burners, fuel and an inflation fan to inflate the envelope. This does not include a fuel cylinder and fire extinguisher.
Ballpark estimate for a sports-sized (small two-person capacity) system is about $20,000 – 22,000. How high do hot air balloons go for the types that can carry a pilot plus three to four passengers? It would normally cost around $35,000 to over $45,000. It includes a 2,600 cubic meter (90,000 cubic feet) envelope, gondola, double burner, K12 basket, fuel tanks, and instruments, but does not include any ground support equipment or chase vehicle. This type of balloon is perfect for private flights like a super romantic date in mid-air with a loved one, participation in competitions and festivals, advertising flights, treating VIPs, clients etc.
If you prefer more spacious basket with the same passenger capacity, an envelope size of 3,700 cubic meters (130,000 cubic feet) and a K18 basket is the one for you. This system would be around $50,000. Ouch! But this is chicken feed compared to “designer” balloons.
But if you are on the lookout for something to satisfy you eccentric self’s preferences, the specially designed balloons are available as well. You can never run out of ideas for the shapes. You can have animal, cartoon character, aircraft, superhero shoe, car or even a castle. You name it, you can have it. The quote you would get for these kind of hot air balloons will be from $120,000 up to, hold your breath, $400,000, depending on the design.
What are Included
Normally, purchase of hot air balloons is by complete set. Meaning, you will buy the entire hot air balloon that is ready to fly. The parts that are included are the envelope, gondola, fuel tanks, and instruments.
The ground support equipment like two-way radio and the chase vehicle are not usually included and should be bought separately.
One of the perks of having this luxury item is that it can be personalized further to suit your taste and personality. You might want your balloon to be customized according to the design, graphics and color combination you prefer. Price range for the customization will be around $5,000 to 10,000 depending on how intricate your taste may be. Even the combinations of the different parts of the entire hot air balloon based on your preferred brands can also be accommodated at a fee.
When flying, being the pilot, you may need some flying gears that include:
- Ballooning gloves – $14.95 to $39.95
- Ballooning boots – $48.02 to $199.08
- Compass – ranges from $4.98 to $39.41
- Waterproof clear map bag – $9.99 to $19.99
- Emergency ignition system – $12.14 to $27.99
- Gas bottle multi-purpose ballooning bag – $9.38 to $48.99
- Balloon pilot log book – $7.39 to $12.93
Along with this hobby, you need to ensure your safety at all times. Aside from needing a retrieve vehicle of your choice with a trailer big enough to accommodate the size of the balloon and other parts, you may also want a crew with a two-way radio to chase you throughout your flight to ensure that someone on standby is ready to assist you especially in the case of emergencies.
Since you would probably want to fly your own hot air balloon, you might want to consider the cost of training to fly it which ranges between $1500 up to $3,500 if you use your own balloon. Using trainer’s balloon would cost around $7,000.
Shopping for Hot Air Balloon
Factors That Might Affect Hot Air Balloon Quotes
- Capacity – the more passenger the hot-air balloon can carry, the higher the cost.
- Size – some hot air balloon may carry the same passengers as with others of the same capacity but can carry lesser passengers, therefore giving more space to move around.
- Other mandatory items – flying a hot air balloon is not limited to the aircraft alone and would require additional items like the trailer, inflation fan, radios, ropes, and chase vehicle to complete the activity hassle-free and to ensure safety.
- Design – your design preference greatly affects the cost of buying hot air balloon as this would primarily be the source of the price bulk of your purchase. These could sometimes make the price tenfold higher than the standard cost.
- Where you purchased the aircraft – manufacturers have different pricing schemes depending on the quality and how well-known they are in the industry.
- The brands of the parts – as mentioned, you can customize almost all parts of the hot air balloon. This means that the brands of the parts that make up the set would dictate the overall cost.