Balloons are aircraft, regulated under the same Aviation Regulations as every other category. Balloons are aerostats (static within the air) - once a balloon is aloft, it moves in sync with the air mass in which it floats.
The modern hot air balloon is made up of three main parts: the envelope, the basket, and the burner. The envelope is the colourful "balloon" part and is sewn into many patterns - geometric designs and custom shapes. It is made from heat resistant, rip-stop nylon. It is coated internally with a plastic which helps contain heat. The envelope is folded, rolled, and stored in a canvas-like bag kept in a cool, dry place to avoid mildew and is continuously checked for any heat damage or tears. If well maintained, a balloon envelope should last 500 or more flying hours.
The wicker basket is woven with a tight, vertical weave of cane or bamboo and is well suited to resisting entanglement in branches or power-lines.
A finishing urethane coating inside and out ensures the wicker will resist becoming brittle or rotten from exposure to moisture.
This maintains the wicker's ability to flex, absorbing and distributing any bumps during landings. The basket contains the propane tanks and flight instruments - usually a compass, altimeter, rate of climb indicator, fuel quantity gauge and pyrometer (envelope temperature indicator).
The heart of the balloon is the burner, usually rigged on a rigid brace over the pilot's head and controlled by means of a hand valve. Hot air balloons use plain old air as the lifting gas
By heating the air inside the balloon (with blasts from the burner), the pilot makes that air less dense (lighter) than the outside air, and the balloon rises. As the internal air cools, the balloon becomes heavier, and descends.