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?


1 Answer 1


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

  1. [Reserved]
  2. An altimeter.
  3. A rate of climb indicator.

For hot air balloons (additional equipment):

  1. A fuel quantity gauge.
  2. 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.

  • $\begingroup$ Additionally, to fly in controlled airspace: an aviation radio and a transponder. (BMA in Stockholm Sweden) $\endgroup$
    – ghellquist
    Jul 19, 2018 at 14:24

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