Oddball Hot Air Balloons as presented by: Life Magazine

A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule), which carries passengers and (usually) a source of heat, in most cases an open flame. The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the surrounding air. In today's sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the mouth of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex. We've come a long way since hot-air balloons came in one shape: round. Now when we take to the skies in our ponderously slow-moving, brightly festooned dirigibles, we do it in style. And we even get in a little patriotism, like this Stars and Stripes balloon in New Jersey in 2008.

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