What is Festo?

Festo is a global leader in automation technology and the world market leader in industrial training and education. Festo’s pneumatic and electric drive technology stands for innovation in industrial and process automation – from individual products to ready-to-install solutions. Festo works to improve customer productivity through close, long-term partnerships. With more than 300,000 customers globally in more than 200 industry sectors and 16,800 employees worldwide in 61 companies, Festo’s sales in 2014 were 2.34 billion euros. This year, the third generation, family-owned company celebrates the 90th anniversary of the company’s founding, and 43 years in the US.

Why makes Festo unique?

Festo’s unique automation offering is three-fold and consists of: Festo Didactic, Festo Bionic Learning Network and Industry 4.0.

Festo Didactic is the world-leading equipment and solution provider for technical education. Festo Didactic designs and implements learning laboratories, educational equipment and programs that train people to perform in highly dynamic and complex industrial environments. Festo Didactic’s goal is to maximize the learning success in educational institutions and industrial companies worldwide. 

Learning from Nature: Festo’s Bionic Learning Network is a unique research platform where principles from nature provide insights and inspiration for technology and industrial applications. With its bionic robots, Festo continues to demonstrate how the production world of the future can learn from nature.

Industry 4.0 is a recognition of the real world of man and the virtual world of machine growing increasingly closer together. Modern information and communication technologies are merging with industrial processes and are changing the production landscape. As a member of the Industry 4.0 initiative of the German Federal Government and through innovative product development and unique state-of-the-art factories with advanced automation, Festo is leading this trend.  

Have questions about Festo’s hot air balloon and Airship?

Download the Festo Ballooning FAQ here or read below.  

Why do balloon flights take place in the early morning and late evening?

Balloons need cool stable conditions in order to operate safely. Winds are generally most favorable the first hours after sunrise and the last hours before sunset. The sun’s uneven heating of the earth’s surface causes strong, variable winds. In the morning it takes a few hours before the sun heats up the earth enough to generate the thermal activity that creates wind. In the evening, the sun’s intensity has diminished enough to reduce winds to acceptable levels.

How do balloons fly?

Hot air rises, it’s that simple. A large propane fueled burner heats the air inside the envelope hotter than the air outside the envelope. The pilot controls the altitude and rate of ascent by controlling the temperature of the balloon.

What are balloons made of?

The envelope is made of fabric called ripstop nylon (very lightweight and very strong) with load bearing webbing tapes and stainless steel flying wires utilized to attach the envelope to the basket. The basket is made of rattan/wicker and each one is individually made by hand.

What fuel do balloons use?

Propane gas, because it’s clean and powerful.

What kind of clothing should I wear?

Casual clothes are most comfortable. A warm sweater or jacket may be needed for early morning or late evening after landing. Wear shoes you are comfortable standing in.

Is it cold up there?

You do not feel the wind in a balloon as it always flies along with the wind. Therefore, and because the burner gives also heat, it’s not colder than on the ground. The decrease of temperature with height is normally not noticeable. Only in winter or when flying extremely high, it is recommendable to wear warm clothes.

How do you steer a balloon?

Balloons cannot be steered! Winds determine a balloon’s direction. However, wind direction and wind speed vary at different altitudes and a pilot has a limited ability to change the flight path by changing altitudes. 

If you can’t steer a balloon, how do you get back?

Here we come to the indispensable heroes of ballooning; the dedicated retrieve team. After assisting in the launch, the retrieve team follows the balloon in the retrieve vehicle. They try to stay in visual and radio contact at all times. Whenever possible, they also seek permission from the landowner to use their land as a landing site.

Can anyone fly in a balloon?

There are different regulations per country. In general, we use from 12-14 years up and over 4 feet tall.

What is the maximum wind speed for a balloon?

Normal Festo balloon: 10-12 knots (12-14 mph)
Special shape up-side-down: ± 5 knots (6 mph)

Can balloon flight always take place?

Unfortunately balloon flight cannot take place at all kinds of weather circumstances. Rain, fog, too much wind and also thunder and lightning are reason to cancel (or when possible reschedule) a planned flight. The decision if it’s safe to fly is only made by the pilots in command.