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A Hot Air Balloon Tether is where we bring one of our Hot Air Balloons to your location and inflate and operate the balloon onsite using a series of ropes to hold the balloon in place during the time the balloon is in operation.
A Balloon Tether is still classified as a flight operation and all of the local and FAA regulations apply. A visit to the location may be required by one of our pilots.
What are the space requirements for the Balloon?
Hot air balloons are much bigger than people realize. Balloons come in different sizes from a one man balloon to as large as an 18 passenger balloon. For the Tether operations we use a balloon that carries a pilot plus 4 passengers. This size seems to be the best size for this type of operation.
For this balloon we would need an area about the size of a baseball in field or 150 feet by 150 feet. This area must be clear of any obstacles of any kind and must be able to be driven on by our support vehicles.
What are the best times of day?
Since a balloon is so large, any wind at all can make handling the balloon almost impossible and potentially dangerous. See wind limits below. There are two times of day when the wind will most likely be at or below our limits, These time would be the first few hours of daylight in the morning and the last few hours of daylight before sunset.
How many people can ride?
The number of passengers depends on many factors. The wind is the most variable of these factors. Wind, Size of the Balloon, Height of the ride, Size of the Area, Length of Ride and size of the passengers are the major factors. On the average we can take the balloon up to the top of the ropes and back down in an average of 5 minutes. This would ideally mean that we could make 20 such trips in on hour. If we take 4 people on each trip, then you will average 80 passengers in one hour, in one balloon.
What are the costs of a Tethered Balloon Operation?
A Tethered Balloon operation costs as follows.
$2000 for the first hour of operation and $1000 per hour after that. A minimum two hour contract is required. Operations of more than four hours will reduce the hourly rate to $800 per hour. A 50% Non-refundable deposit, for the first hour, is required to set up the operation and flight operations are weather permitting.
For Example, A minimum two hour tether will require a $1000 (non-refundable) deposit and a $2000 payment at the end of two hours. A four hour tether will require a $1000 (non-refundable) deposit and a $3200 payment at the end of four hours.
Why does it cost so much?
A hot air balloon is designed to FLY! It is not designed to be held in place. When you hold a hot air balloon in place it will generate many great forces on the structure of the balloon that will greatly stress the balloon. One hour of tether time on a hot air balloon is generally equivalent to 2.5 to 3 hours of normal wear on the aircraft as if it were in normal flight operations. That same aircraft used in normal flight operations will generate around $740 of passenger revenue. Since the tether operations are 2.5 to 3 times as hard on the balloons we should be charging about $1850 to $2220 per hour for a tether. The only reason we can charge less is because of the deposit. We are both taking a chance on the weather. If every time we contracted to do a tether operation the weather was good then we would have to charge more for the operation. But since the weather does not always cooperate we can offset some of the price with the non-refundable deposit. Let's make this very clear!!! You may pay the deposit and the balloon may not fly at all!
What if the weather is bad?
We will still be on site! If the weather is bad then of course we will not take any chances with peoples lives. In fact in over 30 years of balloon flight operations we have never had anyone hurt. We hate to disappoint someone but we refuse to hurt anyone. Our balloon pilots and support crews are true professionals. If the day comes and we are not able to conduct a flight operation our teams will be onsite with all the equipment for the contracted time of the tether. We will display all of the balloon equipment, answer questions, let people get into the balloon basket and take photos and generate good will for your event as well as take the time to inform and educate the public about hot air balloons. The disappointment will soon fade when you get the response from your guests about how informative and professional our teams are! Understand this, We can not guarantee the weather and will not take chances with the safety of your guests or our equipment!
Winds are the most crucial part of a tethered balloon operation. The best way we have found over the years to explain how a balloon will react in wind is this….
Take a kite out on a day when the wind is blowing about 10 to 12 MPH. You can very easily fly the kite. In fact the kite will produce enough pulling force to lift the weight of the kite and string and still produce an extra 3 to 4 pounds of pulling force on your arm. A kite is one square yard of fabric. A Hot Air Balloon is more than 1400 square yards of fabric and can cave in when blown upon creating a concave depression in the side of the balloon catching even more of the wind creating a sail effect. The balloon in the same winds can create around 4 to 6 THOUSAND pounds of pulling force. Enough force to drag a couple of pickup trucks like a two year old child pulling a Tonka truck.
If the wind becomes gusty at any time these forces can be greatly increased creating a serious and potentially life threatening situation. On all of our tethered operations the Pilot In Command has the final and undisputed authority.
Call us. Tell us your location and times. We will make arrangements for one of our Pilots to come and look at your location. We will also look at the airspace requirements in your area to see if we can legally operate in your location. If our inspection and research shows that you are a potential candidate for a tether operation we will take a deposit payment in any form you wish.
What else should I be concerned with?
Go on, plan the rest of your event and do not worry about the balloon tether. We have all the required insurances and will take care of any local permits needed. We have done hundreds of operations all around the country and provide a completely hassle free program for your event.
Keep in mind, and we can not say this enough. The entire operation is dependant on the weather. When mother nature is cooperative this will be the icing on the cake for your event. This will be the thing that your guests talk about the most.
We have a spotless safety record. Our badge of honor is our 100% safety record and we will not take chances, PERIOD. Your best bet for good weather is early morning or late afternoon.