The RUST Hot Air Balloon Guide

What is the RUST Hot Air Balloon?

The Hot Air Balloon (HAB), introduced on 11/1/2018 in The Hot Air Balloon Update, is the fourth aerial vehicle to be introduced to RUST and the first to be officially pilotable by players. They are a relatively common sight on the RUST landscape, and, sadly, often overlooked by players that would rather take more easily controlled modes of transportation.

The balloons will appear deflated and spread out while on the ground and the burner not engaged, and can be seen for miles when fired, basket standing upright, with an open doorway facing outward and a full canopy clashing against the sky. 

Hot Air Balloon Screenshots

How to Get a Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloons in RUST can be found by players spread across the map’s landscape, with their default spawn rate being dictated by a local server convar that can be toggled by the admin team. To be more precise, Hot Air Balloons can be located in flat, open areas, such as beach inlets, the open desert, grassy plains, and tundras.

In addition to finding a HAB in the wild, players may now also purchase them at the Air Wolf Vendor inside the Bandit Camp monument for the low price of 150 Scrap

Each purchased HAB will come with a default 75 Low Grade Fuel, or just over 6 minutes worth of thrust when burned. If your base is a good ways away or you’re inexperienced in its piloting, be sure to bring extra fuel with you.

Finally, you might steal a Hot Air Balloon from a nearby neighbor or enemy’s base. As this vehicle has no locking features, anyone may steal them anytime.

Anatomy of a Hot Air Balloon

Like any other vehicle type in RUST, there are specific names for the individual pieces that make up the whole of the Hot Air Balloon. While most of these aren’t pertinent to the game or operation of the vehicle, they might be referenced at some point in this guide. 

  • Basket – This is the primary standing platform from which players will perform all tasks while in a HAB
  • Skirt – This is the rope construction that attaches the basket to the above-used components
  • Loot Container You will find a small loot container located directly on the right side base of the Hot Air Balloon’s basket. This container has the appearance of a tanned leather satchel. It holds up to 12 items of any size at once
  • Windsock & Flags – Navigational aids located around the balloon, used to imply wind direction for course correction.  Flags are located on three sides of the Basket, and the Windsock is located on a pole just above the Ignition Button
  • Ignition Button – the sole method for players to turn on and off the burner, used to increase height and speed. This button turns itself off after roughly 30 seconds.
  • Burner – The primary ignition pylon used to create heat and, thus, thrust and lift for the vehicle. The created flame cannot damage players.
  • Throat – Also called the mouth, this is the circular opening of the canvas canopy or envelope
  • Envelope – This is the primary canopy portion that inflates when the flame is on or deflates when the burner is disengaged
  • Deflation Port – The hole at the top of the envelope used to prevent overheating of the canvas

Hot Air Balloon Fuel System

Relatively straightforward, the HAB fuel system can hold up to 500 Low Grade Fuel at any given time, which is the maximum stack size by default. Please reference Refueling the HAB for details on how to add or remove fuel from this vehicle.

Refueling the HAB

Follow these steps to refuel the RUST Hot Air Balloon:

  • Have the appropriate Low Grade Fuel in your inventory.
  • Position yourself inside the vehicle, facing directly up towards the sole center burner.
  • Look for a rusted silver fuel tank conveniently labeled “FUEL STORAGE.”
  • Press E on the fuel tank to open the Fuel Storage container.
  • Insert the Low Grade Fuel into the Fuel Storage slot.
  • You’ve now refueled the Hot Air Balloon.

Rate of Fuel Consumption

Low Grade Fuel is consumed by the Hot Air Balloon at a rate of 1 fuel per 5 real-world seconds, and only while the burner is active.

Hot Air Balloon Control System

How to Fly the Hot Air Balloon in RUST

Controlling the Hot Air Balloon is somewhat of a lost art. Many players get frustrated at the variability that comes with reacting to wind shifts and depending on altitude to act as an engine.

You can learn to fly the Hot Air Balloon in RUST relatively quickly; first, you must understand a few principles to eliminate the mystery. Review the bullet points below, and you’ll be confidently flying HABs in no time.

  • HABs should be brought to a very high altitude BEFORE you attempt to steer them with any sort of accuracy.
  • While the flame burns, the directional flags will only rotate clockwise.
  • While the flame is NOT burning, the directional flags will deviate more towards counterclockwise.
  • Once you have achieved a comfortable coasting altitude, continue burning until the directional flags point toward your destination.  Disengage the burner.
  • The flag will rotate clockwise for a few seconds after disengaging the burner, but only about 15 degrees or so from where you were going.  When it begins to stop turning, or you notice it spinning in the other direction, engage the burner to readjust the course.
  • Abide by the 4-6 second rule: when you’re heading in the direction you want, disengage the burner for 4-6 seconds, then re-engage. Continue this until you reach your destination.
  • While precision landing is improbable, it isn’t impossible.  Be aware that simply touching the bottom side of the basket is instant death for any player, moving or not.

Hot Air Balloon Defenses

Pilot and Passenger Offense

Sure, the Hot Air Balloon doesn’t have any built-in offensive capability like the RUST Attack Helicopter, but it offers a steady platform from which to dispense righteous fury. Whether that means having your passengers lob rockets, bullets, or grenades while you steer, or if you’re taking matters into your own hands and going down with the ship, there are almost no limitations to the kind of firepower players can elect to bring and shoot while in the HAB.

Hot Air Balloon Armor

The Hot Air Balloon Armor is an item for enhancing the vehicle itself. This item is an optional, equipable cabin cover for the standard Hot Air Balloon. When equipped, the armor provides additional protection for the cabin, adds additional health, and even provides a door. Strangely, once equipped, the balloon armor cannot be removed again, as you might expect it to be.

Here are the steps to equip RUST Hot Air Balloon Armor:

  1. Players may only equip this armor while the basket is solidly on the ground. 
  2. Ensure the Hot Air Balloon Armor is in your inventory.
  3. Now, face the red button that provides the Burn lift and press the E key when #HAB.UPGRADE.ARMOR appears.
  4. If fuel is in the tank, you can hold the B key to open the wheel menu to display the upgrade option.
  5. Once equipped, the HAB’s maximum health will be displayed at 2500, the skirt will now have reinforced slatting, and there will be an open doorway.

Hot Air Balloon Repair, Decay & Durability

Repairing the Hot Air Balloon with a Wood Hammer


The RUST Hot Air Balloon can be repaired 30 seconds after it last took damage. This requires using a Hammer and having Cloth in your inventory. Each repair swing will repair up to 61 damage. Anyone within range, regardless of elevation status, may repair the HAB.

Decay Rates

The Hot Air Balloon starts out with a total of 1500 health and will slowly decay over 180 minutes. This is the default decay period, but it is modifiable through server variables. The housing or storage of a Hot Air Balloon is virtually impractical, given that until it is at a relatively high altitude, it is very difficult to control. Most players would rather find a freely spawned HAB than attempt to keep one at base.

Durability Damage Chart

The Hot Air Balloon currently spawns with 1500 Hit Points, and all calculations were done based on that.  While fire-based ballistics are included, their damage is impact-based only, as this vehicle is immune to fire damage over time.

Ammunition / ToolDamage Done PerTotal Required to Destroy
5.56 Rifle Ammo4375
Incendiary 5.56 Rifle Ammo6250
Explosive 5.56 Rifle Ammo9167
Pistol Ammo3500
Incendiary Pistol Ammo6250
HV Rocket1958
Incendiary Rocket13116
40MM HE Grenade6225
Satchel Charge5503
Timed Explosive Charge11002
SAM Site7720

Frequently Asked Questions

My Hot Air Balloon was destroyed.  What happens to my loot container inventory and fuel?

When a HAB is completely destroyed, the vessel’s loot container drops to the ground in a gray bag near the crash site and is available for retrieval by anyone nearby.  All fuel inserted into the fuel container is lost on destruction.

Do SAM Sites shoot at Hot Air Balloons?

Absolutely, regardless if player-owned or Launch Site. Keep your distance.

Could you land this vehicle on the deck of a Tugboat?

Theoretically, yes, you can. Do so at your own risk.

Does the HAB have lights for night operations?

The only visible light on the HAB is the burner when activated, and it will quickly make any night-time travel apparent to surrounding players.

What happens to a Hot Air Balloon that gets submerged in water?

Similar to other vehicles, there is a cutoff point at which the vehicle will no longer allow for burner engagement.  Once this threshold is reached, the burner activation button will cease to function.

Hot Air Balloon Admin Commands & Convars

For more in-depth details on the admin commands and convars, check out our RUST Hot Air Balloon Commands & Variables guide.

Commands & ConvarsDefault ValueDescription
hotairballoon.population1How many HABs per KM spawn on map
hotairballoon.outsidedecayminutes180How long (in minutes) before a Hot Air Balloon loses all its health while outside
hotairballoon.serviceceiling200Maximum height obtainable while piloting a HAB
spawn hotairballoonBasic spawn command for admins

Final Thoughts

The RUST Hot Air Balloon is a truly unique addition to RUST that offers players a novel way to explore the map and travel from destination points. Whether you’re soaring high above the landscape or engaging in aerial combat against other players, mastering the art of controlling this unconventional vehicle can be a rewarding experience.

As players further push the envelope of game progression methods, game mechanic exploitations, and game admin patience, you can be sure that Corrosion Hour will be right here detailing all of the tools they will use for these ends. Be sure to check out our Discord for all of our most recent updates. Be good to each other, always. 

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About No Limit Llama

An aspiring woodworker and web designer. Father, husband, and Rust veteran. Llama has written op-eds and official game documents for over two decades. The earliest writings were on Asheron’s Call, followed by World of Warcraft and eventually Rust. The vast majority of his indoor time is spent running Rust servers or helping friends with their Rust-related projects. He enjoys working around the house, continuing his education when time permits, and creating new processes to simplify activities of daily living for his friends and family. He has an incredible wife, a dog, three children, and one granddaughter.

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