Hot Air Balloon Project
Honors Physics - Summer
You will be given the material to build a Hot Air Balloon along with basic instructions.
This project will be completed in three phases; a) Research , b) construction, c) experimentation and flight.
Research (50 points)
Your group must research Archimedes Principle and derive a method of using your hot air balloon in the classroom to find the density of air in the
classroom. This must be summarized in a typed paper and include:
a. What data must be collected
b. How the data will be collected
c. A detailed derivation of the formula you will use.
d. Additionally, your team will be assigned two of the attached question from the FAA certification test and you must
i. Find the answer to the question
ii. Cite the website where you found the answer
iii. Explain your reasoning for choosing this answer
The research part of the project is due on Thursday, August 2nd.
Construction (50 points)
You will be given the materials and basic instructions to construct your balloon. By Monday, August 8th your balloon must be ready to fly. These points
will be assigned based on the following rubric.
Category 5 4 3 2 Weighting
Decoration Interesting and attractive Attractive and Neat but Neat but not necessarily Not neat, not 5 points
Design with a unique and design is plain. Balloon has attractive. Design is attractive, has a non-
applicable name. a unique Name plain, but name is unique unique name
Craftsmanship The rocket shows that The rocket shows that the The design and The rocket looks 20 points
the creator took great creator took pride in construction were thrown together at the
pride in his/her work. The his/her work. The design planned. The item has last minute. It appears
design and construction look and construction look that little design or
several flaws that detract
carefully planned. planned. The item has a few from the overall look. planning
The item is neat and free of flaws, but these do not was done.
flaws. detract from the overall Craftmanship
look. is poor.
Automatic points for having built a balloon 25
FAA HOT AIR BALLOON CERTIFICATION:
Sample Written Test
1. Under which atmospheric conditions is balloon lift off and climb the most difficult?
a. Low temperature and low humidity
b. High temperature and low humidity
c. High temperature and high humidity
2. In hot air balloons, propane is preferred to butane or other hydrocarbons because
a. It is less volatile
b. It is slower to vaporize
c. It has a lower boiling point
3. The lifting forces that act on a hot air balloons are primarily the result of the interior air temperature being
a. Greater than ambient temperature
b. Less than ambient temperature
c. Equal to ambient temperature
4. While flying in 18 oC air, ice begins forming on the outside ofthe fuel tank in use but not on the reserve tank.
This would most likely be caused by
a. Water in the fuel
b. A leak in the fuel line
c. Vaporized fuel instead of liquid fuel being drawn from the tank into the main burner.
5. What would cause a gas balloon to start a descent if a cold air mass is encountered and the envelope becomes cooled?
a. A density differential
b. A barometric pressure differential
c. The contraction ofthe gas
6. If a pilot changes the altimeter setting from 30.11" Hg to 29.96" Hg, what is the approximate change in gauge reading?
a. Altimeter will indicate 0.15" higher
b. Altimeter will indicate 150' higher
c. Altimeter will indicate 150' lower
7. What condition does a rising barometer indicate for balloon operations?
a. Decreasing clouds and wind
b. Chances of thunderstorms
c. Approaching frontal activity
8. Clouds, fog, or dew will form when
a. Water vapor condenses
b. Water vapor is present
c. Relative humidity reaches 100 percent
9. What would decrease the stability of an air mass?
a. Warming form below
b. Cooling from below
c. Decrease in water vapor
10. It may be possible to make changes in the direction of flight in a hot air balloon by
a. Flying a constant atmospheric pressure gradient
b. Operating at different flight altitudes
c. Operating above the friction level if there is no gradient wind.
Here are several websites you may find useful:
Experimentation and Launch
We will launch balloons on Monday, August 8th during class. Your launch will be graded according to the following rubric:
Category 5 4 3 2 Weighting
Launch Results 50 points
5 minutes + 4 – 5 minutes 3 – 4 minutes 0 – 3 minutes
Time of Flight (x 10)