Please keep in mind that the answers to these frequently asked questions may vary some, depending on the operator.
What should I wear?
Dress to be comfortable just as you would if you were on the ground. Wind chill factors are eliminated because a hot air balloon travels at the same speed as the air around it is typically a bit warmer in the basket.
Footwear: Please DO NOT wear sandals. Wear comfortable shoes that cover your entire foot.
Are there age restrictions or height requirements for the balloon rides?
Balloon riders height and age vary by operator. For safety reasons we cannot allow children to be lifted up to see outside the basket during the flight. There is no height or age restriction for tethered rides.
What is your policy on flying with medical conditions and/or disabilities?
Women who are pregnant are not permitted to take balloon rides. Please check with your local operator with other questions regarding this topic.
How do balloons fly?
Balloons operate through the basic principles of gravity and heat transfer. As air inside the balloon is heated, it rises. As the air inside the balloon cools, it descends. To make the balloon fly, an inflator fan fills it with air, which is then heated.
Can you steer a balloon?
Winds determine a balloon’s direction. Balloonists can steer a balloon, to a limited extent, by adjusting the balloon’s altitude to make use of different wind speeds and directions.
How long does a balloon flight last?
The actual flight time averages about an hour. The entire ballooning experience, including pre-flight preparation, flight and post-flight celebration, may take three to four hours.
What fuel do balloons use?
Our hot air balloons carry 30 to 60 gallons of propane in stainless steel fuel tanks.
Why do balloons fly in the early morning and late evening?
Winds are generally most favorable the first hours after sunrise and the last hours before sunset. The sun’s uneven heating of the earth’s surface causes strong, variable winds. In the morning, it takes a few hours for the sun to heat the earth’s surface enough to generate the thermal activity that creates wind. In the evening, the sun’s intensity has diminished enough to reduce winds to acceptable flight levels. Ideal winds are 3 to 6 mph.
How high do balloons fly?
Balloons typically fly from treetop level all the way up to several thousand feet, depending on what the pilot is trying to accomplish. The world record in a stock Aerostar hot air balloon is over 32,000 feet!
Who can be a balloonist?
Balloon pilots come from all walks of life. Anyone with the desire to learn to fly a balloon can become a pilot.
Do you need a pilot’s license?
Yes. There are two levels of balloon pilot ratings. The first is a private pilot. The pilot must have at least 10 hours of flight time in free balloons, which must include six flights under the supervision of an instructor. The private pilot must pass a written test, oral test and flight check prior to being issued a private pilot’s license. The second rating is a commercial pilot. The commercial pilot must have at least 35 hours of flight time, of which at least 20 must be in balloons (the remaining 15 hours may be in other aircraft). The commercial pilot must pass an additional written, oral and flight check prior to being issued a commercial pilot’s license. The holder of a commercial pilot’s license may operate a balloon for hire and may give flight instruction. (For additional requirements on both ratings, please consult FAA Regulation Part 61 for details.)
How can I be involved without buying a balloon or becoming a pilot?
Many people start in ballooning as a crew person. In most areas, you can join a local club that organizes races and community functions. You can also join the Balloon Federation of America, which is the national sanctioning body for the National Championships and is dedicated to promotion of the sport. In addition, you can check the one of the members found on this website.
What equipment is required for balloons?
Balloons include several parts: the envelope (the fabric portion of the balloon), the basket, burners and fuel systems. The material for balloon envelopes is made of a ripstop nylon with tough, durable coatings for heat and air retention. The basket is made of wicker, which is strong, yet flexible and is aesthetically pleasing. Burners can come in either single, dual, or triple.
How much does a balloon cost?
Like cars and boats, new balloons can vary in size and amenities. You can start with a smaller new sport model for around $25,000. These balloons typically carry a pilot and one additional person. The larger balloons that can carry two or more passengers in addition to the pilot will range between $30,000 and $100,000. There are many good used balloons on the market that vary in price due to size, age and flight hours.