Pilots use a gas-powered fan to pack cold air inside the balloon envelope.
Most fans have a 5-15 horsepower engine turning a 24-36 inch propeller at high speed, which makes the fan a potentially dangerous piece of equipment and must be handled with care.
An inflation fan can weigh as much as 100 pounds, so move them with care.
PRIOR to the fan starting, the fan operator needs to:
- Watch as the fan is removed from the vehicle so you know how to return and secure it
- Before the fan is started, look for loose items near the fan that can either be blown into the envelope (grass, rocks, etc.) or may be sucked into the back of the fan (envelope banners, loose tarps) and secure or remove these items
- Know where the "kill" switch is and how to operate it
- Know how to adjust the fan throttle
- Know where and how to move the fan when cold inflation is complete
- Tie back long hair, zip up coats, and keep all loose clothing, lanyards, or dangling items secured and away from the fan
- NEVER move the fan while it is running
- Stand firmly behind the fan with one foot on the base and both hands on the top rail to hold it steady
- NEVER tip the fan while running
- Know that if necessary to move the fan (for safety reasons, like basket flopping around), hit the "Kill" switch first, wait for the blades to stop, then move it. Restart (if directed by pilot)
- Pay attention to the pilot's hand signals