Once the balloon is inflated and all of the checklists have been completed, the pilot burns some more to make the balloon lighter than air, and it lifts off.
On this particular day, the surface winds are gentle and allow us the
opportunity of a picture from directly below, before the balloon drifts away.
The pilot adjusts the altitude and rate of ascent or descent of the balloon
by changing the timing of blasts from the burner, but each blast is typically of
the same duration. The instruments on board (an altimeter to
indicate altitude, a variometer, to indicate rate of ascent or descent
and a pyrometer to indicate the temperature of the air inside the
balloon) help, but flying a balloon is primarily an acquired skill that is very
visual in nature. The pilot can not directly affect the direction of
flight. However, by climbing or descending, he may be able to find winds
of varying directions to achieve a modest degree of steering.
Next: Landing and Pack-up