Balloons are carried by the wind,
so pilots have no direct control over their speed and
direction. To steer, the pilot moves the balloon up
or down in altitude to catch winds with the desired
speed and direction. An understanding of global wind
patterns, particularly the jet stream, is critical for
around-the-world balloon flight. Mission control monitors
meteorological data, which it relays to the pilots so
they can choose the most favorable winds.
On August 4, 2001, balloonist Steve Fossett launched
his Solo Spirit from Northam, Western Australia, in
his fifth attempt to make the first round-the-world
your cursor over each of the points along the Solo Spirit
flight path to discover how Fossett steered his balloon.
Although Solo Spirit did not make
it around the world, Fossett set a record for the longest
solo flight, lasting 12 days 12 hours 57 minutes and
covering a distance of 20,430 km (12,690 mi).
1. How do you steer a balloon?