From my earliest times visiting the Far East in the late 60’s I have seen Chinese lanterns (note: I use the name Chinese lanterns to cover all the
phenomenon as mentioned above)
I have watched them launched from Land, Sea, Mountains and rivers. In China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and many other small islands and places
doted around the South China Sea.
One trick used more recently is to attach fireworks to the base of the lanterns as can be seen here: www.youtube.com...
Imagine seeing this over Birmingham or London, what would be reportedif you hadn’t seen it launched?
I have to say that whilst the majority of these Lanterns ascend in a very similar way, many many of them do not and sometimes do things that defy
I have let an awfull lot of them off myself. Its the 'done thing' at festival times in the far east, at certain religious ceremonies, birthdays,
wedding deaths and marriages.
Typical 'launch' time from lighting to release depends on various things.
Size of lantern, wind, and actual heat source. However working on the 'normal' sized lantern of around 2-3 ft tall you are probably looking at
around 1-2 minutes, sometimes a bit less sometimes a bit more, but the heat inside collects very quickly.
Now duration time is the moot point. I have seen some go up and burn for 5 minutes then go out and drop. Ive seen some go up, get hit by a draft, turn
sideways and burn and fall, Ive seen some go up and up and up untill we actually lost sight of them due to the height, but, more importantly Ive seen
some go up a hundred feet or so then just stop dead, then some would drop and some would simply hang there.
I have always suspected that this was due to some Temperature inversion or temperature level. I have seen as many as 100+ lanterns just hanging there
in the sky yet 50 yards along some were still zooming up!! and 100 yards the other way some were slowly descending. They are totally unpredictable
because of so many many factors.
The factors deciding the ascension rate:
Size of lantern
Quality of construction
Size of heat source
Ambient temperature at launch level
Temperature fluctuations at various heights above launch level
Position of Launch place (valley, plain, launch site shaded by wind etc etc)
Wind speed and direction at launch level
Wind speed and direction above launch level
Once a Lantern is ignited and released it is at the mercy of many factors. The first being the actual quality of the construction. These days many
lanterns are constructed of very cheap paper and the expansion of the air inside them can often split them either at launch point or later. Whatever,
if they do split they can often be seen shooting off at strange angles as the jet of heated air from inside shoots out. If this happens at height the
effects can be even more bizarre, with a lantern flying off in a totally different direction than all of those around them. One of the other results
of splits and tears is they can be more prone to burst into flame as increased air flowing through the ruptured lantern can cause the lanterns to lean
way over, causing the heat source to ignite them At increased height after flying off in a different direction if one of these lanterns catches fire
they can be quite spectacular as they slowly descend in a ball of fire.
The History of Lanterns go back many thousands of years. Originally launched for specific purposes mainly related to the spirits and health , these
days they are launched for practically any reason, marriages, birthdays, deaths and sometimes just for the hell of it.
The original chinese lanterns were very intricate constructs with many designs painted on them and they were traditionally hung outside of people
From earliest times in China people few kites. Then people began releasing their kites as if to release bad spirits in their bodies. People began
flying kites at night and then hanging small lanterns on them for pleasure. It is not known when the jump from flying kites with suspended lamps
changed to actually putting a heat source inside a lantern and flying that instead of a kite. Whatever it was it became the way to celebrate an
It has been postulated that the flying lantern was the first ‘identified’ UFO. (www.iop.org...
Whether that is true or not, in the 20th century it is well known that many UFO’s are nothing more than Chinese lanterns, let off for some
celebration or other. The Internet has also made these lanterns easier to obtain with many companies selling them ready made.
A recent offshoot of these paper lanterns is the ‘Bin Bag Balloon as seen here: video.google.com...