For normal sightseeing flights in a typical hot air balloon, what instruments or avionics does the pilot usually carry? Do balloons have a minimum equipment list?
The magic regulation for minimum equipment on a balloon (in the USA) is 14CFR31.85 ("Required Basic Equipment" for manned free-air balloons).
The FAA requires that balloons be equipped with:
For all balloons
- An altimeter.
- A rate of climb indicator.
For hot air balloons (additional equipment):
- A fuel quantity gauge.
- An envelope temperature indicator.
For captive gas balloons (additional equipment):
- A compass.
Beyond what's required by regulation, in most free balloon operations I've seen they also carry an aviation radio and/or a CB radio (to communicate with their ground crew) - this is usually a handheld transceiver.
The FAA Balloon Flying Handbook also makes for interesting reading. They talk about required and optional instruments and equipment found on various types of balloons in Chapter 2.