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I have seen photos of hot air balloons aloft with fearsome looking burners shooting flames into the interior of the balloon. That may be fine for a fully inflated balloon. But what about when the balloon is in a heap on the ground? How do you get it inflated without burning the fabric?

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    $\begingroup$ @abelenky We've been over that point multiple times in meta and chat (e.g. here, here). So far the general consensus is that we're here to answer questions, not to just send people to Google or Wikipedia. That also seems to be the general idea on SE as a whole. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jun 3 '16 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ The nice thing about trivial answers is they are easy to answer and expand upon, which makes them good for building rep and drawing people to the site. $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Jun 3 '16 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ @abelenky: It seems to me that the question is valid. Whether it's easy to find an answer elsewhere is not the point, nor the fact that the question will get many reputation points. While the question shouldn't be closed, if you find it not so good, then you are free to not upvote it, and if you think the OP makes no effort to find an answer prior to ask, then you may even downvote it. And by the way I believe your last argumentum ad personam on the chat is not something that is in the spirit of the site. $\endgroup$ – mins Jun 4 '16 at 11:57
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The balloon is spread out on the ground and rigged to the basket. Then, a cold air blower is used to do the initial inflation, blowing air into the envelope through the bottom aperture. This gets the balloon about 75% inflated, but still horizontal. Lastly, the burners are lit to heat the cold air already inside the canopy, expanding it and raising the balloon to vertical and full inflation.

You can find any number of videos on YouTube that show the process. Here's one:

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    $\begingroup$ How important are the rabbit ears to the process? $\endgroup$ – Tim Jun 4 '16 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ Essential $\endgroup$ – Alan Shutko Jun 4 '16 at 17:50

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