Propane Storage
Store propane tanks in a cool, ventilated place, away from ignition sources, flammable materials, and low places where a leak would form a pool of vapor. Do not store propane in a room or garage containing a water heater or furnace with a pilot light.

Always store propane tanks with the excess-pressure relief valve on top so that if the pressure should rise, the tank will vent vapor, not liquid.

Aluminum cylinders designed for either vertical or horizontal use have a special universal vent that should always be on top.

Selecting a Propane Company
All type-certificated hot air balloons in the United States use propane fuel. Supposedly there is only one grade of propane. The fact is, propane fuel purchased from a propane supplier may be a blend of propane and butane. Although butane is not readily available in its pure form, it is a by-product that is used during the summer months to reduce the tank pressure of propane.

Propane is used mostly as rural and industrial heating fuel. In the hot summer months, outdoor propane storage tanks, sitting in the sun, can develop high pressure, and propane suppliers may add butane to keep the pressure lowered. Balloonists sometimes have a problem in the fall or early winter when their propane supplier may be selling old stock, still containing a percentage of butane, which has low pressure when cold. To avoid low-pressure propane in the winter, purchase your balloon fuel from an operator who pumps large quantities of propane and has a fresh stock.

The price of propane varies widely and can be purchased from gas stations, recreational vehicle (RV) and trailer rental companies, trailer parks, campgrounds, and propane companies.

Balloonists in rural areas have the advantage of being able to have their own storage tanks and decanting fuel into their balloons. Propane distributors will rent storage tanks and fill them on a regular basis for a reasonable price. All you need to do is provide a legal place to put the tank, which usually involves clearance from buildings and property lines and a concrete slab or blocks to mount the tank. The propane company provides a tank of suitable size with a liquid feed hose and you can transfer liquid by differential pressure.

In some states there are discounts for using clean fuels (propane is very clean) and highway or motor vehicle taxes are deducted for use in certain vehicles. On the other hand, some states charge balloons aviation fuel taxes.

All balloonists, regardless of how they usually receive their propane, should know how to pump their own propane, and should own their own propane line adapters.

Fueling Safety

All fueling should be accomplished outside in the open air. Avoid fueling inside a van, bus, or closed trailer. Make sure there are not any sources of ignition nearby. Remove strikers and loose igniters from the basket. Because of static electricity, do not wear synthetic clothing in the fueling area. No one should smoke in the fueling area. Although a cigarette may not create sufficient heat to ignite propane, a cigarette lighter will. Do not allow spectators and nonessential persons to loiter nearby, and do not allow anyone in the balloon basket while tanks are being filled.

Everyone involved in fueling should wear gloves. Preferably, they should be smooth leather, loose fitting, and easy to remove. If a glove does get a blast of liquid propane, it will freeze, be very cold, and you will want to get the glove off fast.

Keep a large operable chemical fire extinguisher nearby and make sure everyone involved knows how to use it.

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