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Can I bring a camera?
YES! Bring your digital, still, or video camera!!
What should I wear?
We recommend that you dress for the weather of the day and as if you were going for a hike in the woods. Dress in layers that are easy to put on or remove as the temperature changes. During a flight, temperatures rarely change more then 10 degrees from what it was on the ground, but a jacket may be needed once we land and the sun sets following an evening flight.
Please wear long pants, socks above the ankles, and low or no heel shoes, which cover your feet, no matter how hot the temperature. Please, NO OPEN-TOED SHOES. We highly recommend water resistant shoes for morning flights. A hat is also recommended especially if you are 6 feet tall or more. This clothing will greatly reduce injuries to your skin in case of a windy landing and provides protection from briars, poison ivy, other irritating vegetation and biting insects encountered at some landing sites. Shorts, skirts and sandals are not recommended for these reasons. Cameras are a must!
Questions about the flight
Can you fly in any weather?
Ballooning is an activity that relies on good weather. We don't fly in rain, fog, snow, or wind consistently above 7 mph. Balloons don't fly when there is a threat of thunderstorms in the area. Also, evening flights may be cancelled when the heat index reaches 95°F at any time during the afternoon (hot air balloon rides can be very uncomfortable when the heat index is above this temperature). There are other conditions that can affect the decision to fly or not to fly. These factors are taken into consideration by the pilot to ensure a safe flight. The pilot in command has the final decision if the flight will take place. If your scheduled flight is cancelled, the flight will be rescheduled at no additional cost.
How many people can fly?
A pilot usually flies with 2-4 passengers, but the largest ride balloons carry up to 20 passengers. Balloon volume, outside temperature, altitude above sea level, and other variables all factor in.
Our balloons can carry up to 5 passengers plus a pilot. If you have a larger group it is a possibility to arrange to have multiple balloons to accommodate your party.
Can children fly?
For maximum safety and enjoyment, most pilots will only fly children who are old enough to understand a preflight briefing and tall enough to see over the side of the basket unaided (typically at least 5 years old). These children often more fully appreciate flying.
When can you fly?
Hot air balloon flights can occur twice a day, minutes after sunrise and about an hour prior to sunset. These are the times of the day when the air is most stable which will provide lighter winds for a safe and enjoyable flight. Stronger winds and turbulence make mid-day flying too risky.
We offer sunset hot air balloon rides weekdays and sunrise and sunset hot air balloon rides weekends and holidays.
What seasons do we fly?
Balloons can fly all year and every season has something different to offer. However, late spring through late fall are most popular.
How long can you fly?
Fuel consumption, weather conditions, and landing availability can cause the length of each flight to vary. We guarantee a 40 minute flight, but will fly as long as we can do so safely. An average flight is 45 minutes to 1 hour. The entire event from the time we meet at the launch site, inflate the balloon, fly, have our champagne celebration, and return to the launch site takes about 2.5 - 3 hours.
How far do you fly?
Flights usually cover 5-10 miles, but distance depends on fuel onboard, wind speeds, and available landing sites.
How high do you fly?
Balloons can climb over 12,000' above sea level before pilots and passengers require oxygen. Most flights occur within 2000' of the ground for more close-up views, skimming treetops, and conversations with those below.
How fast do you fly?
Balloons travel as fast or as slow as the wind. Many pilots prefer winds less than 10mph. Stronger winds may compromise safety and comfort on launch and landing.
How do you steer it?
Officially, balloons are non-steerable aircraft. You climb or descend to find various wind speeds or directions, but you can only fly with the wind.
Do pilots need a license?
Yes. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) issues a pilot certificate after you've passed written, oral, and flight exams for both private flying (alone or with non-paying passengers) and commercial flying (flying for hire).
Questions about the balloon
Most balloon fabric is lightweight rip-stop nylon or polyester treated with coatings to reduce porosity and withstand ultraviolet light.
How much fabric does it take?
The average balloon requires 1200-1500 square yards of fabric, 2500 feet of load tape, and 6-8 miles of thread to sew it all together.
How much does it weigh?
The average balloon weighs about 200-350 pounds, and the basket and fuel tanks add about another 400-500 pounds.
How long will the balloon last?
Depending on care and operation, a balloon can last 300-500 flight hours before upper heat-weakened fabric needs replacing. Most baskets will last at least 2-3 times as long when properly cared for.
How big is it?
A typical sport balloon stands 65-80' tall and 50-60' in diameter while holding 70,000-120,000 cubic feet of air (or the same number of basketballs). Special shapes or ride balloons can easily double all these figures.
Our balloons are 77,000 & 105,000 cu feet and we carry four passengers plus the pilot, although we do offer private flights if you prefer a more personal experience. For comparison 90,000 cu ft is equal to 90,000 soccer balls.
What's the basket made of?
Most baskets consist of hand-woven wicker which won't conduct electricity but will absorb impact shock from a hard landing.
What type of fuel does it use?
Balloons use LP gas also known as liquid propane, the same fuel your backyard grill uses. An average flight will bum 20-30 gallons of fuel, but factors including balloon size, payload weight, and outside temperature affect this.
How powerful are the burners?
Most balloon baskets have 1 or 2 burners which put out 15-30 million BTU's of heat at temperatures over 1000°F. An average home furnace puts out 50,000-200,000 BTU's while most barbecues put out 15,000BTU's.
What instruments do you carry?
Standard instruments include an altimeter (height above the ground/sea level), variometer (speed of climb/descent), pyrometer (internal air temperature), and fuel remaining/pressure gauges. Most pilots also carry aircraft radios and handheld GPS units.
Where do you land?
Most open accessible areas will do: large yards or parks, school grounds, cut crop fields, or even alongside roads. No airport is required, although you may land at many airports after taking certain precautions.
Do you land where you launch?
This rarely happens and only under unique conditions. Most flights travel in one direction: with the wind.
What's the landing like?
The basket usually touches the ground or slides a few feet and stops. In faster winds the basket may bounce, tip at an angle, or lie over and drag to a stop.
How do you get back?
A crew travels beneath you with a truck to carry passengers and equipment back to the launch or meeting site after the flight.
Questions about crewing
A crew of 2-4 people can usually set up and inflate a balloon in 20-30 minutes and deflate and pack up in about the same time. More doesn't always mean faster or better; too many crew can slow or complicate tasks.
How can I start crewing?
Simple. Just ask! Most pilots are more than willing to take on new crew members. Just ask any pilot or crew member how to get started and you're on your way.
What do I get for crewing?
Most crew volunteer for the friends, experiences, and memories ballooning offers. Many pilots try to fly crew after a few flights as a thank-you for their efforts, and some will ask crew to participate in local festivals or competitions as well.
Hot air rises - the hot air inside the balloon is less dense than the air outside.
How hot is "hot air"?
Most balloons will support themselves at 40°F above outside air temperature and launch at 100-125°F above outside temperature. On a 70°F day, a balloon would support itself with internal air at 110°F and launch with internal air temperatures of 170-195°F. This varies with balloon size, weight onboard, and weather conditions.
What's it like up there?
It's like floating on a cloud. There's no sensation of movement. Except for a burner blast every 20-30 seconds, it's perfectly silent; you can hear people talking and dogs barking at 1000' above the ground.
Is it cold up there?
You don't notice any difference on most flights. Temperatures drop about 3°F for every 1000' you climb, and there's no "wind chill" since you travel with the wind.
How do you go up or down?
You climb by adding heat and descend by letting the balloon cool or releasing hot air through vents in the balloon.
Why the champagne?
This French tradition began to pacify angry farmers and frightened villagers who'd never seen a balloon. Today, this tradition continues for passengers to celebrate their flight with a toast.
How do pilots compete?
Competition in ballooning means accuracy and not speed. Pilots maneuver toward pre-chosen targets from several miles away and drop bean bags or markers which are scored on distance from the target. Top pilots regularly drop markers within inches of dead center!
Can you fly around the world?
Round-the-world balloons consist of separate and stacked hot air and helium compartments 5-10 times the size of an average hot air balloon. While many times more expensive than hot air balloons, they borrow many hot air balloon design/construction features and flying techniques.
What happens if a bird hits the balloon?
A bird would simply bounce off the tensed fabric of a balloon that is standing or in flight.
Who and what defines airworthiness?
The FAA requires balloon inspections either annually or every 100 flight hours. Every component must meet or exceed integrity and strength standards sufficient for safe flight.
Can a balloon fly with a hole in it?
A rip or hole up to 3' long in lower fabric or smaller tears in higher fabric won't greatly affect volume or lift. However, they will weaken fabric strength, so immediate repair is both called for and required.